I recently attended a training conference at Zone Bristol as part of The Preddy Programme 2019, all about how to network in business, both online and face to face.
We went through the all the various online mediums that can be used for networking as well as what to expect when going to a networking event and how to manage your expectations. I felt like I learnt a lot and so – without giving away too many trade secrets – I thought I’d share a few of my biggest takeaways:
Cater your introduction to the audience
Depending on whether you are talking to a group of industry peers or representing your industry at a wider event, you must always understand the audience you are talking to and cater the way you introduce yourself to them.
Feel free to show off with technical jargon and industry terms when explaining what you do to people in your industry, but when talking to people outside of this, try to make your role relatable to them, by perhaps name dropping some well-known brands you have worked with or using language they will understand and engage with.
Make connecting personal
Connecting to people online can be done easily with the press of a button and with social media channels such a LinkedIn leading the way when it comes to using social media for business networking it’s important to know how to best utilise it.
When you connect to people online that you don’t know or have never spoken too, it can seem easy and is a useful way of engaging with people in your industry or getting your face in front of the right contacts. It is however important to always think about adding a message when doing this, letting them know why you want to connect and making it personal to them.
Find someone on their own
Networking events can be daunting when faced with a room full of people you don’t know and everyone seems to know each other, but there are ways around this. 9/10 times there will be someone else feeling exactly the same as you, stood on their own not talking to anyone.
These people are the ones to approach as you are able break the ice through the similarities you share in the situation you find yourself in. You will also find that once you have introduced yourself to one person, it becomes easier and easier to do it more.
Manage your expectations
One of the biggest takeaways from the session was to manage your expectations when it comes to networking events and don’t be too strict on yourself if you don’t achieve what you set out too.
By going in hoping to achieve X number of new business leads or speak to Y number of prospects will often mean that achieving anything less than this will deem the day a failure. It is therefore important to make realistic targets for yourself, even if it is as simple as contributing to a question or introducing yourself to someone knew.