We’ve all had that feeling nervous, heart beating ten to the dozen, shy to the point of awkwardness and no, I’m not talking about a first date!
Well I am in a way I’m talking about networking and how it can make a huge difference to your business.
My first time was in January 2008 on the top floor of a local pub in Shrewsbury, and I thought if I hid at the back of the room, no-one would notice me, and the ordeal would soon be over.
In fact I left as soon as it finished not having summoned up the courage to speak to anyone how disappointed was I with myself, and I kicked myself all the way home.
So I decided my business “dating experience could only get better and I set out to build my confidence and get the most out of networking.
There are certain steps I always take before I even set foot through the door of any business gathering:
- I research who will be there, and I make sure my pitch is short, sharp and to the point
- My business cards and a notepad and pen at the ready, I put on my best smile and I’m ready for action
- I always try to look professional and presentable, and it’s important to not take on too much at once don’t sign up for too many events
Once I arrive at the venue, I force myself to be confident and approach people I don’t know otherwise what’s the point of putting yourself through this??
But most of all, don’t be pushy and ramble on about your business or products this is not an opportunity to “hard sell, it’s a chance to introduce yourself to new people and build a working relationship.
Remember people buy from people and it’s yourself you’re “selling, not browbeating colleagues into signing on the dotted line.
After the event, engage your new contacts in conversation use the business cards you’ve picked up, and chat to them by email or on social media sites: “lovely to meet you, “sorry I didn’t get to speak to you it all adds up.
And don’t ever feel you’ve failed after one meeting if you haven’t made a sale, because just like dating, networking takes time to deliver the right results. You may not have what other businesses need today but in the days to come, someone may well remember you and all your hard work will have paid off.
I am now a member of several networking groups and I’m well-known in Shropshire for my friendly approach what a turnaround from that nervous first-timer! Go on, take the plunge because networking is like any relationship the rewards are well worth the effort!