Top Networking tips to help you get the most from networking meetings

Stewart Leahy, Yorkshire Powerhouse

Editors Note: Expert content needs an expert content writer. We’re pleased to publish this business advice article on networking, kindly written by our very own expert – Stewart Leahy, the founder of Yorkshire Powerhouse.

Stewart has attended various networking meetings for more than 20 years now. He is regarded as the ‘ultimate networking tart’ and is always happy to welcome new networkers to meetings!  If you’d like to meet Stewart at a networking event, get in touch.

This article is for both new and experienced networkers alike. We all need an occasional reminder of how to succeed at a networking event because it’s genuinely hard to do right!

These networking tips are based on extensive observations from over the last 20 years of all kinds of networking meetings  from highly disciplined and regimented meetings to a social gathering at a bar (billed as networking!).

The main observation is that the ‘best results’ come from attending structured meetings. Look for meetings where you get to make a short (30-90 second) presentation to the assembled group. Also look for the ability to have time to meet the other attendees in a relaxed environment (often over a cuppa). It is helpful to also receive a confirmation of attendees at or after the event.

Our top Networking tips:

1. Act like the host of the event regardless of whether you are regular or not. It’s everyone’s job to welcome visitors – this includes you! By doing this, you become memorable, especially to new visitors who might never return.

2. Prepare your presentation in advance. Don’t run over the time you’re given and make sure you actually say what you do. Repeat your name and business name at the beginning and the end of your presentation. Be consistent with your presentations.

Remember that part of your goal is to achieve a balance (that you’re happy with) between professionalism and fun. Networking should definitely be fun!

3. Know what you want to achieve. If you are going networking, it should be because your marketing strategy says so. If this is the case, follow your marketing strategy, find the right people, use the right message! Remember that the chances of actually making a sale on the day is slim. Never ‘assume’ they’re a bad contact for you, they might know your dream prospect so be open-minded!

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Additionally, persistence is an essential networking tip. Visit a group once and not much will happen – networking is normally a medium to long-term activity.  Contact us if you want to find networking meetings in your area?

4. Build visibility and credibility. If you’re new to the group, then you are an unproven risk … so why should they introduce you to their connections? What can you say and do to convince a stranger that you’re trustworthy? Name drop your existing clients and projects and read testimonials you’ve received – they all inspire trust.

5. Build relationships outside the meeting. Get to know your networking colleagues, their businesses AND them too as people. Visit them at their place of work – it allows you to get to know their business and you are showing a high level of interest in them. Whenever there’s a chance, make introductions to people you know to be seen as an influencer.

6. Give to the group. Time, referrals and new visitors are all valuable prizes within the networking scene. But it’s also helpful to simply give some of your time. Help set the room up or clear it down afterwards, tidy up and look out for people. The more you ‘give’ the more you’ll get back in return.

7. Follow up on any quick chats you have with an email, call, text or handwritten note. Acknowledge the chat and show that you were paying attention. If you agreed to do something then make sure you actually do it.

Remember that ‘following up’ should also be a medium to long-term activity based on your business marketing strategy.  Networking is often one of the activities at the top of a sales funnel.

8. Watch body language to see when you can join a conversation. Feet pointing inwards ‘closing’ the group mean stay away, we’re not ‘open’ to anyone else. Open feet with a gap is an invitation to join in.

Remember this basic rule when you’re already chatting with someone. Don’t give the wrong signals and always try to encourage more people to join your group (unless you’re having a private chat!).

9. Wear a name badge so people get to know your name. Wear it on your right chest so that when you shake hands the other person can get your name. Remember, also, that you should speak clearly when introducing yourself and your business

10. Smile and enjoy the experience. Too many people ‘know they’re supposed to go networking’ but hate every moment of it – and it shows.

11. Consider your appearance, deodorant is essential (!) but don’t overdo perfume or aftershave. Think about your clothes and dress appropriately for the event and to reflect your business and what you do.

12. Consider your business branding in the room. What marketing material can enhance your message? Many networking groups encourage ‘bumf’ and banner stands as it makes their event look vibrant.  Take advantage but make sure your materials are ‘on message’ for your marketing strategy.

13. Make sure that any marketing materials you take are of a good quality and not homemade / home printed / badly designed / cheap and cheerful / containing errors scribbled over to correct!!! (We’ve seen them all and they all reflect badly on your and your business!)  See this article.

14. Actively listen to the presentations and make notes as this is courteous. Concentrate on who’s speaking and keep your attention on them to show that you care about them.

15. Publicly thank your networking colleagues if they make valuable introductions or referrals to you. Testimonials are always nice to receive but thanking someone also shows the group that you’re trustworthy!

Top Networking Tips – simple things to avoid:

  • Don’t mumble.
  • Don’t rattle coins or keys in your pocket when speaking.
  • Don’t leave your phone on or use an electronic device.  Never takes calls or answer texts or emails – you’re supposed to be concentrating!
  • Don’t be shy / don’t be ‘English’. You’re there to meet new people so ‘fake’ confidence if you need to and be interested in them.
  • Don’t sit down when you should be networking. You’re supposed to be networking, not net-sitting!
  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Don’t concentrate on your own presentation when it’s not your turn!
  • Don’t arrive late and don’t leave early.
  • Don’t talk when someone else is talking.
  • Don’t swear or be profane.
  • Don’t bring Politics into the room.

Networking fills many experienced networkers with dread so don’t assume you’re on your own. Confidence at networking comes with time. So, get out there and embrace the opportunities networking brings and follow our networking tips!

Go networking – build up word of mouth referrals, build your self-confidence, build your sales pipeline … and so much more.

Networking tips from Yorkshire Powerhouse

Now you’ve read our article on networking tips – have you any more questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible.  Is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or do you need an introduction to someone who can help you – please let us know:

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