on 14-07-2016 03:16 PM
I'm writing an article for the website on how to network effectively and I would like to hear your tips!
I'm looking at the best places to network, any techniques on how to go about talking to influential people, any examples of a time networking has really helped your business - even tips on which types of business cards make an impression. Basically any advice that would help someone who is nervous to go out there and get meeting people.
I'm going to be asking people from Virgin Media too as well as doing my own research.
All of your contributions will be credited to you with links back to your website!
on 16-07-2016 04:03 PM
We have found the first rule to effective networking is to make sure you will be networking with decision makers. There are ways of giving yourself the best chance to achieve this without the delegate list from looking at the organisers, proce and various other aspects.
We we find that membership organisations such as the FSB and IOD host really good events as there members by nature are decision makers. Directors and business owners.
Also local business magazines can attract a strong balance of sectors and roles to make sure you are meeting influential people that are local to your business.
The he editor of our local business magazine often says "instead of trying to sell something, try to buy something." I think this is a great way to look at networking and if we all did this we would all benefit.
Hope this is useful Megan!
Empine Print Management Ltd
on 16-07-2016 08:13 PM
When my business was in its infancy I joined BNI, a networking organisation which operates on a very structured basis and is designed to pass referrals between its members. Although I did win work, I also learned some valuable networking skills via their training programs, so I guess my advice would be to consider joining something similar, not for the promise of lots of new sales but to develop confidence in a networking environment.
Generally speaking I would make sure you are prepared before you attend any event in terms of making sure you have business cards and product literature with you. Dress appropriately. Work diligently on your pitch. When asked the question "what do you do" you have one chance at making a fabulous first impression. Don't spoil it by saying "I'm a accountant and I do a spot of business consulting", tell them how you can help them. "I own my own consultancy business. Every three months we enrol a new client on our make me a millionaire program. We help them visualise what their business would look like if valued at a million pounds and help them form a strategy to get there."
Remember, you have two ears and one mouth, it is vital to listen more than you talk. People who are on transmit rather than receive won't win many friends if they just talk about themselves without giving the listener a chance to respond or discuss their own business.
You are likely to receive business cards. As soon as you can, send an email telling them it was good to meet them. If beneficial try to arrange a follow up meeting.
Some events may publish the list of attendees. Review it. It might contain the name of that person you have been trying to track down for the last six months.
Hope this helps
on 17-07-2016 12:54 AM
Firstly, people love my business cards. I use the mini-cards from moo.com and am able to carry them in a keyfob so they're always with me! I can put up to 100 different product photos on them, but tend to go with 4-5 repeated. They're not the cheapest, but they're so convenient and pretty!
As for networking, I can't manage those structured groups. They require you to bring referrals weekly, turn up to pre-business hours meetings, pay a large membership fee... and hot chocolate isn't something that can fit into everyone's business - especially when the group is printers, tradespeople, and IT managers. That was my experience anyway. But there's another good local group set up that meets on an evening each month in a local casual environment and you just need to chat to people. I found more there who are interested in my industry just by introducing myself separately than I did in a formal environment. So aim your networking to suit you!
Social Media also plays a good part - see if there's a facebook group that caters to your industry. Try and get celebrity endorsement (Fat Gay Vegan has plugged my products), media time (I was lucky to get a few minutes on Radio 2 as part of a business piece they were doing), and testimonials!!! I have taken a customer testimonial myself, and have taken part in one for another business. They help both sides out as you support them and they highlight you.
20-07-2016 10:28 PM - edited 20-07-2016 11:45 PM
Picking up on Pip, Celebrities/Influencers are good. Same goes for the media. It gets your product in front of a lot of people with instant kudos. Whilst you will get people contacting you as a result, you'll need to be prepared. We have a magazine review coming out in a little over 2 weeks. I'm making sure I'm prepared for the response, whether it's B2C or B2B. If new potential stockists contact us, I'm ready. Studios, band managment, other media outlets - I'm ready. If people have been sufficiently wowed that they have reached out, try to live up to thier expectations and get that relationship going.
Obviously you need to network in order to get to that point, but everyone else here has made very good points about how to go about that. I suppose what I am suggesting builds upon those steps.
My other (related) point is what I always say - Don't be afraid to ask. It gets you places, I tells ya! Note that this doesn't necessarily apply to everything, and directly asking for the end desired result can sometimes be a no-no. But perseverance, aided with a little consideration, will help you.
For example: I asked about getting product in front of James Bay and in a fortnight it happened. I was able to straight-out ask as we had built a good, solid relationship with our contact. The Maccabees came about after I sent a 'cold email' to thier managment (I name-dropped some mutual contacts, with permission, to boslter my chances). One of our reviews occured after striking up conversation with an editor and offered to lend them an item to try out. They loved it and then told me that they wanted to do a review. In all three situations I actively asked for something, but each in a different and situation-appropriate way. What's more, I got what I ultimately wanted.
It's late and I'm rambling, but I hope that adds a little insight, Megan!