Some people are just serial networkers, they enjoy being out and
chatting to new people. Others find the process more difficult but
it’s definitely worth persevering (or starting!).
The benefits of networking are well documented – and it’s not just
to generate business. You might learn about what’s happening in the
local area, find a speaking opportunity, or start developing a long
term business relationship. Networking meetings are great places to
raise your profile, meet like-minded people who share the same issues
and you might just
get some free advice.
It is true that people do business with people they like and
networking is a great opportunity to make an impression and meet key
decision makers and influencers. And if you don’t get out and meet
new people how are they going to really get to know you?
But are all networking meetings the same? No, definitely not,
there are different groups for different people. You have to
experiment and find three or four key groups that really work for
you. Some people don’t enjoy the strong sales and referrals groups
but others find this type of networking brings in lots of leads and
Once you’ve researched what groups exist and who runs them, don’t
feel under pressure to join immediately, most good networking groups
will allow you to attend one or two meetings and get a feel for how
things work and who attends.
So once you’ve researched what groups are in your area and sector
here are some top tips to get the most out of your networking:
1. Turn up on time, check out where the group meets and if it says
7.00 for 7.30am don’t rush in at 7.30am or arrive late as it will
just make you flustered. Don’t forget some groups change venues each
2. Don’t stick to only talking to people you know, make an effort
to try to talk to two or three new people at each meeting.
3. Start up a conversation at the coffee or buffet table about the
food or drinks and then say ‘Shall we stand over here’ or find a
loner and say ‘These meetings can be a bit daunting is this your
4. Good opening conversations are ‘How long have you been a member
of this group?’, ‘How has your week been?’ ‘What line of business are
you in’ or just smile and say hello.
5. Once talking, keep the person engaged by playing equal parts
listener and talking, people love to talk about their business.
6. Don’t linger too long with any one fellow networker. If you get
stuck make your excuses whether it’s a coffee/loo break or ‘Excuse me
I just need to catch up with someone I met last time.’
7. Don’t thrust your business card into everyone’s hands at the
first opportunity, just pick two or three people who you can help or
you think can help you and make sure you always follow up after a
8. Make sure you have business cards and any literature to hand in
case someone is interested or you may be allowed to display leaflets
in a central area.
9. Never dominate a meeting! If you are invited to say who you are
and what you do stick to something short and memorable. Invite people
to speak to you later or if you want to say more, offer to speak at a
future event. Don’t become a networking bore.
10. Finally relax and enjoy it, the more you get to know people
the easier it will be so stick at it and you could well be reaping
Kim Gilmour is the Director of Shropshire-based Connect Consultancy
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