Posted on: 19/07/2018
To many, networking is terrifying. The mere thought of approaching strangers and having to spark a conversation can paralyse even the most outgoing of us. It doesn’t have to be so daunting. At the end of the day, we are all human and if we are at a networking event we are there to meet new people.
If you are keen to get out there and build some prosperous relationships, Sam Booth, Deputy CEO of pro-manchester has pulled together her top ten tips to make the whole experience seem more inviting.
1. Be on the scene and be seen
Without doubt the best way to build relationships and benefit from the abundance of business opportunities in any region is to get out there. This is especially true in such a well connected, collaborative city like Manchester. The more events you attend and the more people you meet will increase your network and raise your profile. This will also open you up to referrals and ensure you are always at the forefront of people’s minds when the next business opportunity or idea arises.
That is not to say that you have to attend everything. Choose the events that are most suited to you, your business and your preferred networking style and make the most of them.
2. Be interesting
Don’t just talk business. I know the ultimate intention of attending networking events is to increase business awareness and explore business opportunities. You are however much more likely to strike up a longer lasting relationship if you give people a little more insight into you, who you are and what you like to do.
If you can uncover a common connection you will become much more memorable.
3. Be mindful – listen
A decent conversation is a two way street. It’s most definitely not all about you. Take your time to listen to what the other person has to say and take an interest. Ask open questions and let the conversation flow naturally.
4. Be yourself
Never try to be someone you are not. No one likes to be lied to or fooled, this will never end well. Be who you are. Be honest, warm and open to conversation and let the relationships develop naturally.
5. Be prepared
Always take your business cards with you take a look at the attendance list before the event. If get to an event knowing who you might want to talk to, with prepared ideas for discussion, then you can’t loose. You may even meet some other very interesting people by chance along the way.
6. Be early
Perhaps this should be at the top of the list. My biggest tip is to always arrive at an event early. That way you are always going to be the first person people will approach. If you arrive late the majority of people will be already engrossed in groups and conversations and these can be hard to infiltrate.
Arriving late also leaves little time for networking and conversations become rushed and often unproductive.
7. Be brave
Remember, you are not alone and everyone in the room is in the same boat. As mentioned above, the mere fact that people are at the event means they are open to meeting new people and will welcome your approach. Don’t hold back, be fearless and go get ‘em.
I would also advise going it alone. It is far too easy to stick with your colleagues and friends if you attend together and unintentionally shut others out. If this prospect is too daunting ensure that you and your colleagues split up or make the efforts to approach others.
8. Be pro-active
Always ensure that you follow up fairly quickly with every person that you meet at an event. Drop them an email, invite them for a coffee and continue the conversation. This is where the real relationship begins.
9. Be inviting
Networking is daunting for all of us so make sure that you are open and inviting to others. Don’t stand in closed groups and don’t play with your phone. Smile and make eye contact and make an effort to make approaches, especially to those you see standing on their own. The majority of the time they are just dying for someone to rescue them from the awkwardness of being there alone and not knowing who to talk to.
10. Be nice
Again smile, be approachable, be friendly. People will always naturally gravitate to the people that look nice.
About the Author – Sam Booth, Deputy CEO, pro-manchester
In her ten-year career at pro-manchester Sam has been an integral part of its growth from a small, effective membership network to a sophisticated business development organisation. A firm part of the Manchester business community, Sam is a familiar face to most, constantly and efficiently working to bring businesses together in the city region.
As Deputy CEO, Sam is responsible for the organisation’s corporate engagement as well managing all existing key partnerships and member relationships. Whilst providing support to her team, Sam manages the day-to-day running of the business.
Sam also sits on the board of trustees for Forever Manchester, the City of Trees Executive Advisory Board, the MMU Faculty of Business and Law Advisory Board and the Greater Manchester Organisational Representatives Group.Go back to Top Ten Tips