Networking is essential in business. 

There are individuals and organisations out there that may be able to grease the wheels on your journey to success.

‘Its not what you know, but who you know’.

Opportunity is found a lot sooner when you look for it, but it doesn’t always come to you and this is fundamentally why networking is an essential skill and activity.
Additionally building relationships with like minded entrepreneurs can help you swap notes and stories.

I even find that a networking meeting can energise me for weeks.
There’s nothing like being in a room of other like minded people and freeing yourself away from the ‘nay sayers’ that try and drag you down.

Here are 7 top Networking tips.

1. Research.
 Look at the list of attendees beforehand, have a plan of who you want to talk to before you get to the meeting.
But don’t get too blinkered with a networking plan of attack, remember;

‘networking is about connecting with people you don’t know’

2. Get there early.
People in an empty room naturally congregate together making networking easy.

You also need to maximise your time on the floor networking and working the room, getting there earlier gives you much more networking time.

Leaving it too late means there’s a full room with too much noise, being late may mean you have to approach groups who are already in conversation which makes your approach and networking in general a lot more difficult.

3. Build rapport and don’t forget to smile.
Building rapport helps others relax it also does the same for you, it’s also the best way to start conversation, build trust and start an ongoing business relationship.

4. Have a few ‘openers’.
Get a list of at least 3 opening lines or ‘icebreakers’ so you can approach others cold.

The golden rules are don’t be rude, don’t interrupt other people already in conversation, and never walk away with out excusing yourself first.

5. Be a listener and remember names.
People naturally want to tell you about themselves and what they do, the best thing to do is listen.

Whatever you do don’t give them the hard sell, it will alienate you straight away and if you get a re-buff you are probably trying too hard.
Wait for people to ask about you, then have a slick succinct and practiced elevator pitch ready.

Remember their name and use it, nothing connects and makes people listen more than calling someone by their name it also shows you have take time to listen.

6. ‘People invest in you not the product”.
You need to energise the room and show real passion about what you do, show your real personality and be yourself.

7. Follow up and Follow through.
Following up any lead is the most important thing you can do otherwise there’s no point even turning up and networking in the first place.

Following up made easy.
Take a small notepad, write down contact info, and actions to take, I  also jot down the topic of conversation as it jogs my memory and reminds me what to do next.
Take peoples business cards and also give them yours, getting a card is much more important than dealing out piles of your own as this gives you the control in the relationship and puts the next step in your hands.
I use CardMunch on every business card I get it’s an iphone app, it’s the quickest way to get business cards into an electronic format that you won’t lose.

Networking means sending follow up emails or in the least reconnecting with social media such as linked or twitter.
You have to strike while the iron is hot, its always best to follow up within 24-48 hours of any initial contact.

And don’t forget Networking is fun so Enjoy Yourself.