Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or you are already established and looking to grow, networking events are a great way to meet people to work with; suppliers, partners or potential clients. Meeting a room full of new people in an unfamiliar environment is not everyone’s idea of fun; we get lots of calls ahead of events with people worried about attending on their own or unsure whether it’s something they can do. If you’re one of the worried few that know the value of these events but dread the reality, here are some hints and tips on braving networking events.
- Research the event. We frequently post photos and testimonials about our networking events so if you’re attending one you haven’t been to before take a look at the kind of event it is. Make sure you get accurate directions so you turn up relaxed and not flustered.
- Plan yourself a few opening questions to ask new people. Having a few icebreakers up your sleeve will mean the person you’re talking to has something more to work with than ‘Hi’ and will make for a more engaging conversation. They will also help if there is an awkward pause in conversation. Open questions that encourage conversation such as “Can you tell me a bit about your business” and “How did you get into your current industry” can prompt longer answers.
- Rehearse an introduction for yourself. This doesn’t mean a long monologue that contains half your CV. Just who you are, what you do (or what you’re planning to do if your business is at the ideas stage) and why you’ve come along. This means you feel that bit more confident introducing yourself and will save you from a long rambled introduction.
- Have business cards ready and make sure you ask for cards from people you might want to talk to in the future.
- Have an exit strategy planned for conversations. It’s good to meet a variety of people but at the same time you don’t want to make people feel that you don’t enjoy talking to them. Have a few excuses ready, such as refilling your drink, finding the bathroom or thanking the sponsor, to avoid awkwardness.
We run a range of networking events from small breakfasts to big conferences, so for your first few networking events make sure you choose an environment and size you feel more comfortable with, whether you want to blend into a big crowd or feel comfortable in a smaller group. Soon you’ll find yourself a seasoned networker; expanding your business with new contacts and enjoying yourself at the same time, talking to new and interesting people.
The Business Growth Hub offer a range of networking events ranging from local business breakfasts to large conferences. For more information take a look at our events calendaror contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org