Business networking is extremely important for businesspeople. Be it managing directors, business development directors, or interim directors, it’s important to make a strong, professional impression from the get-go.At FBI Consultancy Ltd, Dr. Mark D. Yates and his team of LinkedIn experts offer professional services to help business owners and CEOs grow their businesses. With our LinkedIn Consultancy service, we aim to get companies better online visibility and smarter brand awareness. But business networking is different altogether.
Dr. Yates often attends these business events to give his expertise in LinkedIn training. They are a great way to meet like-minded professionals from other companies and make good, solid connections, which can bring positive future business deals and subsequently, business growth.
Here are 8 tips for business networking, which can help you achieve success at any professional business event.
The Elevator Pitch
Normally it takes about 30 seconds to get to the floor you want to get to in an elevator. This is the same amount of time it should take to communicate who you are and what you’re looking for. This is called the ‘elevator pitch’ or ‘elevator speech’.
When you’re business networking, getting your elevator pitch perfected is important, because you’ll probably meet quite a few people in a short space of time. It will likely be a fast-paced environment where other like-minded professionals will also be limited on time. So, it’s all about using this short amount of time to sell yourself succinctly and impressively.
Hold the Self-Promotion
Keep the elevator pitch; lose the sales pitch. It’s all about building relationships, not necessarily selling, so you should take an informal approach to the event. The key in these places is to get a conversation started. People are more likely to want to do business with someone they like, since people are people.
They’d hear the hard-sell almost every day, sales pitches and cold calls. Networking events are about meeting people and building new relationships, and it would be a breath of fresh air if there was no hard-sell or self-promotion.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Because there are so many other professional business-minded people who are also networking, it’s important for you to be unique and stand out from the crowd. You should be focussed, ready, and dressed appropriately. You should first observe everyone else to get an understanding of who is who, and who to talk to. Bring business cards. Sell yourself.
At the same time, you should also be yourself without over-selling. A lot of these networking events move away from the corporate approach and turn somewhat informal. But you should always pay attention to someone when they’re talking to you; it’s a better way to engage so you can understand, from a personal level, whether you should continue to communicate after the event.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
“What are the top priorities in your business at the moment?” This is an open-ended question because it forces the person answering to give an actual answer. A closed-ended question, on the other hand, might be, “Is lead generation one of your top priorities?” because they could easily answer “yes.”
These questions are all about helping the recipient with their answer. Sometimes it’s natural to come out with a yes or a no, and these closed-ended questions don’t help anyone. Give them something to go on and you’ll get a good answer back.
Keep Your Personal Integrity
You should build your trust and reputation to have good integrity. Integrity is all about being honest with strong moral principles. Integrity, trust and reputation are vital for business networking. We all make mistakes, it’s only natural, but to hide away from those mistakes, to lie and not apologise can damage your integrity and can be harmful to your business. A lack of trust means less success in business networking.
Be honest and open and show who you are. People warm to a person who is honest and real because they can trust them, and trust is the foundation of a strong business relationship.
When business networking, it’s easy to fall into your comfort zone and expect people to come to you. But this is your chance to shine, so being proactive is important as it’ll not only get you more connections, but it’ll also get you noticed. Your confidence will project how you know what you’re doing.
Passion and enthusiasm are important in these places to show that, not only do you mean business, but you care about what you do. You enjoy what you do. You’re willing to go out there and get it. Make the first step and meet people, network, and have a conversation.
Do as Well as Say
You don’t have to expect to be talking to the million-pound deal-maker. You never know. So, it’s really important not to judge. When you meet someone for the first time and exchange business cards, it can be easy for that name to slip from your memory as their business card slips down the side of your car seat.
If this happens, then the whole thing is pointless. Like being proactive, do what you set out to do. If you say you’re willing to do business with someone, or willing to contact again, then do it. This will also build your integrity, and even if this contact doesn’t work out, they may refer you to someone else that they know. That’s what business networking is all about.
This might sound similar to the previous point, but follow up with the contacts you make. This is the point of business networking, to meet like-minded business people to build your client list and allow your business to grow.
Networking is where the business begins. Stay in touch. Some prefer phone, some like email, and a lot of social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, are becoming the norm to contact as well. It’s good practise to leave it two days before contacting again to show your interest. Refer back to something you already discussed to bring it back to the personal level again.
Dr. Mark D. Yates is giving a talk at the Halton & Warrington Business Fair 2017 at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes on the 2nd November 2017. His talk will be: ‘How to use LinkedIn to Grow your Business.’