Business networking is starting to be seen as one of the most effective ways of generating new business for companies.
In Part 1 I outlined the basics of networking including how to prepare, and how to conduct yourself at the event. Part 2 gives more concrete suggestions as to what you should do when you are there.
The strategy is to meet as many people as reasonably possible. The objective in each case is to establish whether or not there is synergy between you – whether you think some form of business relationship could be worthwhile. You are simply trying to answer this question. Once it is answered either way, you should move on as quickly as is polite and gracious. If the answer is ‘yes’ you should make sure you have the other person’s contact details, so that you can get in touch in order to discuss in more detail what you can do for each other.
Your purpose at a networking event should be to identify those people or companies where there is mutual interest. It is not is not for detailed discussions; those can come in a calmer environment later.
Posted by Richard Wickes
Sooner or later in most exchanges you will get to the ‘card-swap’ stage. Make sure your cards are in a place that is easily and quickly accessible, and separate from the cards you have received. It is irritating for you and the potential recipient if you have to delve into a pocket or handbag; produce a card case; fiddle with the opening latch, and only then produce the required piece of card. Equally silly is it if you have to examine the card you are giving to make sure it is yours, and not the card from the red hot prospect you spoke to last.
I keep mine in the ticket pocket of my jacket, whence I can extract them one handed in about a second. A separate pocket or handbag section should be kept for cards received.
It will surprise you (it does me anyway) how many people, when it comes to card swapping will say ‘I forgot them’ or ‘I have run out’. At that point you just pass them your pen and one of your own cards and ask them to write their details on the back. Then check that you can read what they have written.
Unless your memory is a lot better than mine, at the end of the meeting you will have some cards where your recollection of the donor’s details is at best sketchy. To combat this I make a point of sitting down in a quiet corner every 30 minutes or so and making enough of a note to remind me of each person I have met. That is why I said earlier that you should take a pen and some paper.
Finally, when you are back in your office after the session, you should send an email to everyone you met who might possibly be of interest, to remind them of who you are. You should use this to set out your business in more detail than you were able to at the meeting.