Being a good networker for your business is more than just handing out business cards. There are five important protocols of politeness that will turn you into an expert at networking, and we have named them our Networking Niceties…
Imagine that everyone you meet at the event has a magic key that will unlock a secret door into a whole new business arena for you, and your task is to find out where it leads. You may find yourself talking to an accountant, and you already have your own accountant that you are happy with, so find out about the business they have as clients.
Ask questions about their preferred size of company, their areas of specialism, their funniest experiences and their most challenging clients. This will give you a lot of information about who they are connected to and you may find out that the very company you would like to pitch to, happens to be their favourite client…
Find Something to Give
The second nicety is to find one thing that you can give them, and if you have only just met, this will be a great test of your networking skills. Why not ask who they would like to be introduced to, or if they are looking for a contact in any particular field.
There might be a contact you know who would be perfect for them to meet up with, and this will also forge a deeper relationship with the person you already know. So if your accountant is looking to work with food service businesses, and you are on first name terms with your local Italian restaurant, then introduce them both to each other after the event by email. Neither of them will forget you after this…
Learn Something New
Whoever you meet at networking events, will usually be quite happy to share some of their knowledge with you, especially if you ask for their professional opinion on something, or their expert view of something.
Everyone from an architect to a zoo-keeper will have expert knowledge about their industry sector, so don’t waste time trying to sell them a service they don’t need, and use your chat to gain a useful tip or business insight. You can even ask them what their one top tip would be to a business like yours. You may be surprised at the answer….
Boost them on your Social Channels
It is hard enough trying to find useful and interesting things to say on your Tweets and Facebook posts all week, so meeting new people at networking events is an easy win for your, and their socials. Ask them if they mind if you send a tweet about meeting them afterwards and make sure that their Twitter name is printed on their business card first, and if not, ask them what it is and write it on the back.
How nice it will be for them to see a tweet sent by you that says “I met Jane from Fabulous Accounting today at the XYZ Network meeting and learned a surprising fact about fuel expenses” They will probably re-tweet it or favourite it, and this means you automatically reach a whole new audience of their followers. We call that a win, win…
Ask for something
Everyone like to help others, but when they don’t know what you want, or what might be a big help this week, relying on telepathy or a lucky chance, is not something that should be in your business plan.
So ask for an introduction to someone, or a piece of advice on your new project, or for an invitation to their next conference or a speaking slot (yes, be brave!) at their next regional meeting. Everyone will do their best to help, so giving them a steer towards what can really help you, is simply good sense. Here are some ideas:
Do you have guest speakers at your regional meetings? Do you happen to know any good aromatherapists in Leicester? Would you like an invitation to a networking meeting in Hinckley? Can you introduce me to any estate agents that may need to find a plumber at short notice?
Building on these five Networking Niceties will keep your business in people’s minds, and make you the person to call when they need something….