Walking into a room full of strangers can be an intimidating prospect, no matter how confident you are. Networking is a brilliant tool to get to know other like minded people and businesses in your local area, but it can be challenging. At The Northern Affinity, we’re all about helping you to build your very own business community. We wanted to bring you a few easy tips and tricks to make your networking experience a fun and productive experience.
“Turn up, listen up and follow up!”
‘It’s important to remember not to be afraid to show up and participate in an event. Focus and listen, ask questions about the other person rather than talking about yourself and then make sure you follow up with the people you have spoken to.’
Ian and Tracey Earl – In Business
Walk in with a plan.
When you’re walking into a networking event, there’s nothing worse than feeling aimless. It might be your first time, it might be your first time at a different group. Whether you’re on meeting number 1 or meeting 100, it’s always a good idea to go in there with a plan of action.
Everyone’s version of success is different. It’s important that you set out some clear objectives so you can measure your success. You might want to walk out of there with three new contacts, you might want 15. You might want to organise a workshop or presentation, you might want to arrange a coffee with a new contact. When you set yourself achievable goals, you’re much more likely to want to continue to go to the meetings and push yourself out of your comfort zone in future.
When we say a plan, there’s nothing wrong with planning out a few open questions if you’re feeling nervous. Having a few transferable questions in your arsenal can really help ease some of those first time nerves and will get the conversation flowing.
Be clear on your offering.
It’s often referred to as the ‘elevator pitch’, but whatever you call it, it’s imperative you know what it is you offer. Not only that but you ideally need to be able to explain it super concisely within a few short sentences. We talked more about clarifying your mission, vision and values in a previous blog. Knowing all of these will give you a great introduction to your business. You’ll have no worries about mincing your words!
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
When you start networking, it’s easy to feel like you want to join every possible group in your area. But don’t feel committed to staying with everyone if they don’t suit you and aren’t helping you achieve your goals for networking. After all, becoming a regular at a few events is hugely beneficial. Once people start to get to know you, they can start recommending you to others they meet. Third party recommendations always go down very well. Don’t downplay yourself by burning the candle at both ends.
The Northern Affinity is a vehicle to introduce passionate, friendly businesses to each other. We’re proud to have created a brilliant community who support one another and add tremendous value to each business. Our partners not only benefit from our meetings but can also join our partners, In Business for their weekly sessions around the area. Our peer group coaching sessions are also an excellent alternative if you’re wanting to discuss your challenges in more detail.