Owner of Mums UnLtd, Debbie Gilbert, has been attending business networking events and running her own events for over 10 years. She has built a huge, strong and solid network of contacts which has helped her marketing agency, Viva Business Support and business awards company, The Best Business Women Awards grow and develop.
Here are her top tips
- Make people remember you! Have a brand colour and a branding design which is distinctive. A great example of this is Claire Boyles from Success Matters whose brand colour is turquoise. This colour follows through in her website, business stationary, clothing and even her glasses! When I see turquoise I think of Claire!
- Make sure you have a profile on LinkedIn and its kept up to date. Use a current photo and information about you and your business using the key words and phrases you associate with your business or service. Connect with the people you meet networking on LinkedIn. This will widen your network and theirs and you will be able to pass business referrals on easily.
- Get to events early- that way you can help meet and greet people. You will not be left walking into a room full of strangers but you will able to make the people arriving feel welcome. Offer to get them a drink!
- Don’t bore anyone by waffling on about your business and trying the hard sell! Make conversation interesting by asking lots of questions and talking about business and news topics in general.
- Bring your diary to events and arrange 121’s with people there and then! Otherwise it will take ages to happen or never happen!
- When meeting people for a 121 allow at least an hour, find out more about what they do and think about who you can connect them up with that you know. Hopefully they will return the favour!
- Take something different to a networking event other than the usual business cards. Maybe a pen, mug, notepad, highlighter or post it notes with your branding. It will get you remembered! Or take some of your products along to showcase.
- Never discount anyone! I have lost count the number of times someone has discounted me to speak to as they don’t need help with marketing! They haven’t considered how many people I know and how many companies I help with their marketing! Learn to get know the people in your local area.
- Be consistent. Attend events regularly in your area. Mix free or low-cost networking events with a membership group. The advantage is your profile will be raised in the local area and you will get referrals from a regular group
- Networking is part of your marketing strategy. Keep an eye on the time and money you spend and track the results you get.
- Try and get some speaking engagements, again good for profile raising and elevating your expert status in your area. You want people to think of you when someone needs your goods or services.
- Use the contacts you meet to build a social media tribe. Make it easy for people to connect with you on social media by including links on your business card. Share, like and comment on the posts of the people you meet in your area. Make sure you help them as much as possible and they will help you!
If you feel lost in the maze of networking and want more specialised advice Debbie offers networking skills coaching either by phone or face to face and runs workshops on networking skills. Email for more details email@example.com