You can’t underestimate the power of networking, particularly in a thriving business community such as Cardiff. Getting together can be inspiring and, as well as building business leads, it can show us new ways of doing things. But, how do you ensure you get the most out of each event?
First of all, you need to establish why you’re there. Is there something you’re specifically looking for? Is there a particular service that you provide that you want to shout about? Or is it to simply mingle with like-minded people in the industry? Whatever your reasons, don’t go in guns blazing; ‘me, me me’, ‘sell, sell, sell’. Go with the goal of helping people. Listen to what everyone has to say. Perhaps you don’t offer the services one person needs, but you were just talking to someone who does. Put them together and the job’s a good’un.
Know your business inside out and be clear about what you can offer. You love your job, you have a passion for your profession – so tell the world why it’s so good. Get to know your audience too. It may well be that different networking groups will be interested in different sides of your business.
Don’t rule anyone out either. You don’t know who knows who, so have a chat and find out!
Once you make a contact, keep it. It’s all well and good meeting new people at a networking event, but having a bucket full of business cards with phone numbers you’ve never phoned and email addresses you’re never going to email is pointless. You need to maintain the relationship. You may not need someone’s services right now, but somewhere down the line, you might, and it’s better to have kept the conversation going than calling out of the blue and asking for help.
Finally, just relax and be yourself. Being in a room full of strangers can be daunting, but everyone’s in the same boat. The more events you go to, the more familiar it will become, and you’ll be a networking pro in no time.