Networking is a valuable business asset, whether you run a small business or you manage a larger corporation. Creating industry networks is a skill; and it’s one that can take a while to master. The Business East Sussex business experts have a wealth of experience in business networking and teaching others how to network effectively. Here are our top tips to make the most of business events:
Listen as much as you speak
It can be tempting to talk to avoid awkward silences during business networking, but it’s just as important to be a good listener. You may be there to sell your business, but so are others so it’s important to give people a chance to be heard too. If a conversation is proving not to be valuable in the short term, remember the person you’re speaking to may be able to introduce you or recommend you to someone else in the future.
Plan who you’d like to speak to
If you know who’ll be attending a business networking event in advance, plan who you’d like to speak to so you can make the most of your time there. If you have any specific targets, it’s worth finding out if any existing connections know the person you want to speak to. Failing that, looking at their LinkedIn profile can help you build an idea of their interests.
Tell people how you can help them, not what they can do for you
Ultimately, many people network to find out how others can help them, whether that be by buying their products or introducing them to someone valuable. However, telling people what you can offer them without a sales pitch is important if you’re to be a valuable contact for them too. Perhaps you can put them in touch with someone who can help them or perhaps you can offer them free advice on a certain aspect of their business?
Pick your business networking events carefully
While it’s great that there are so many business networking events around, it’s important to use your time wisely. You may not always be able to predict who will be at an event or which will be the most valuable contact wise, but getting your brand in to the right industries and locations is a good place to start.
Go where you feel comfortable
If you’re unsure about attending an event alone, take a colleague or friend, but make sure you both explore and strike up conversations, not just stick together. It’s also worth considering where you stand at a business networking event – if there’s a bar or food table, you’ll often find people congregate here which could help with conversation starters.
Rehearse conversation starters
If you’re especially nervous or relatively new to networking, rehearsing a couple of conversation starters can help you relax. Topics like business news or the speakers at the event can be ice breakers without launching in to who you are and what you do. Beware how you deliver them though, as you don’t want it to look staged!
If you are a business introducer or consultant looking to meet business providers in East Sussex, you can register to attend our Business East Sussex Connect event. If you’d like to find out more about business mentoring and support available in the region, please contact us.