If you’re a young person in business, networking can often seem an intimidating activity. Walking into a room full of people who are all generally much older than you who all look relaxed, confident and are all talking to each other can feel very scary! But the fact is networking isn’t half as bad as you first think and it’s one of the most effective ways of marketing your business.
It’s for this reason that I’ve set up the Moove Forward networking event at the Soup Kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It will be the first of a regular monthly networking event for young people who may have little or no experience in networking and would like a gentle introduction surrounded by other young professionals.
Networking is actually great fun once you’ve got over your fears, and you’ll find it’s a valuable tool to help grow your business. Here are my four top tips to help you be the most effective networker you can be:
Networking is not about sales. It’s about sowing seeds…
It’s important to understand that networking is not about sales, well not directly anyway. It’s about sowing the seeds, increasing your business’ visibility and most importantly building relationships with other professionals. These may end up being potential clients, but even networking with people completely unrelated to what you do can bring big benefits. So much business is done by referral these days that every relationship you build can be valuable.
Make a good first impression
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about walking into a networking room, that’s absolutely fine, so do most people, especially when they don’t know anyone. Remember, it’s not like walking into a pub and talking to random strangers. Each and every person is there to network and that means talking to people, so walk in confident, with a smile and making eye contact and you’ll have people warm to you instantly.
Utilise your business cards
Business cards are vital at a networking meeting. Having some professional looking cards to give people you network with is crucial to coming across as a business professional. So if you’ve had a conversation with someone, swap business cards. It’s useful to make a quick note on the reverse about what you talked about and where you met. If you begin to network a lot, it’s easy to forget who you met and when.
Always follow up
THE golden rule for networking. Whether it’s a simple email or quick telephone call, as well as being simple good manners it’s essential you follow-up with everyone you meet. Most people won’t bother, so by doing so you will mark you and your business out as something a bit different and a bit more professional than the rest.
Want to give networking a go? Come along to the Soup Kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on Tuesday 30th June 2015 from 6.30pm.