How to ensure a successful networking experience

Networking can be a powerful and necessary investment of time to help develop your business; it is something that can be mutually beneficial – if it’s done correctly. The value of networking lies in building relationships, which can then lend to business opportunities.

This can be a somewhat daunting proposition for some, but for others, the difficulty may be in getting those conversations to translate into business. CA’s PR professionals, Lydia Marshall and Aneesa Malik share their top tips for a successful networking experience.

  1. Preparation is key

Before you arrive, ask for the delegate list. A quick Google/LinkedIn search will reveal all necessary information required to strike up a conversation with the right individual. It might help you pinpoint particular people you’d like to talk to. Being aware of their interests shows initiative and is also a great way to break the ice.

2. If you’re a female

Try wearing heels so you have a better view of the dynamics of the room- you can see who’s in the room, who’s talking to who and more importantly, who you should be talking to.

3.  Listen

Try and learn something about the other person before the conversation ends. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not listening or learning how you could help them.

4. Positioning

Try to stand in line with the bar/buffet table, not next to it- that way people have to pass you in order to get to it.

5. Be alert

Always have your back to the wall, not the door- you want to see who walks in or out.

6. Body language

If two people are in a conversation and their bodies are faced outwards, its showing others it is an open conversation and they welcome others to join in. But if they are facing each other, it usually means they want privacy. It can be intimidating going to events, especially on your own, so if you are a regular, then use this technique to be more inviting.

7. Dress code

Adding a burst of colour to your outfit will immediately make you stand out and make you more memorable; most will be wearing items from the black, navy or grey colour family.

8. Business cards

You don’t want to be fumbling around in your bag or pocket at the most crucial point of an exchange. Invest in a good quality card holder and keep it somewhere easily accessible.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask

Equally as important is to ensure you ask for a business card when the conversation comes to a close. There’s nothing more frustrating than engaging in a productive conversation and then leave not knowing the individuals’ details. So when you do leave with a card, be sure to send a follow up email as a reminder to them.

10. Quality not quantity

It’s always nice to network within the comfort of your own industry – but this may no longer be as productive as it once was. Try to break the cycle and attend events outside your business/social framework.

Let us know which tip worked for you by tweeting us @clarkesteam using #networkingnovice.

Clarke Associates delivers specialist advice across a range of communications issues. For more than 30 years, we have provided for our clients a disciplined and strategic approach to communications. To find out how we could help you, please get in touch by emailing hello@clarke-associates.co.uk or call 0121 702 2525.

 

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