Networking has been implemented around the world since the late 1970s and early 1980s for the sole purpose of creating more relationships between businesses so that they can ultimately make more money in the future together.
The invaluable feeling of connecting with like-minded people in similar situations and scenarios – who can then lead on to help you with struggles you’re dealing with and vice versa is truly magical.
In this blog, we’re going to give you our personal guide on how to prepare for these networking events – as it can be a scary place at first. Carry on reading to learn some vital tips!
What Are the Benefits of Networking?
Before we explore the preparation techniques that you will need to acquire before going to your first networking event (or you’re just new to it all) – you may not know exactly why businesses do this and how it will help them in a multitude of ways.
Having a resume and superior experience compared to other companies is one thing – conversely, having adequate knowledge of the people in your industry and just general communication skills is crucial to successful businesses.
Marketing yourself can be challenging, but being yourself is ultimately the golden ticket to receiving the most attention. Let’s run through some of the benefits we see every day within networking events:
Developing Long-Term Relationships
Although the obvious goal is to connect with people who can potentially make you a lot of money, you must remember that they’re going into these networking events with the exact same mindset.
However, there are a plethora of other reasons that a person and/or business will attend a business networking event (remote or in-person).
With small talk coming to full fruition, you may find that some of the other business owners at the event are aligned with all your views and interests. This is a common occurrence in our mastermind groups and some of our clients have been good friends for years now!
Accessing New Information
Networking (although it is a paid program and courses most of the time) isn’t always about the hard sell with every person you speak to. Sometimes, there will be speakers to learn from, or you will take little golden nuggets of financial, social media and business advice from others attending.
Constantly acting as a student of the game while offering your advice will allow you to get the most out of each event. Education is not always taught from the ones above, so don’t think you have no right to speak your mind on each subject.
Industry news and insider information will always be floating around the table’s conversation too. Consequently, always keeping an open mind and taking notes will be extremely helpful in your learning process.
Attending a networking event if you’ve ever been to one before – you will know that it can feel awkward, to begin with. Sometimes, it can feel like a job interview at the start with each individual conversation, but you soon realise that these are normal people and you begin to open up.
Practising this often makes these opening conversations become effortless and you’ll soon know how to engage with anyone – no matter the set of expertise.
How Should You Prepare For a Networking Event?
Upon listing a few of the copious advantages of networking for your business, you now understand how it can be so effective when dealt with and acted on properly. Nevertheless, none of this truly matters unless you know what you’re going to the networking events with.
Yes, you may have a business with an ideal product or service that will assist tons of people, yet, if you don’t know how to prepare for a networking event correctly – you will most likely freeze up when you get there.
Let’s run you through our guide to preparing for a networking event and how you can implement these small changes into your schedule to maximise your potential for growth from each session.
Updating Your Online Networking Accounts
In a world of social media software and online communication, it is widely renowned that it is becoming the most crucial part of a business nowadays. Social media marketing is far superior to conventional marketing such as billboards, TV adverts, radio adverts, etc.
This is why our first step/ goal for you to set yourself would be to take a look through your LinkedIn profile and website (if you have them, which you should) and make any necessary professional changes. Adding achievements, high-quality images and any other accomplishments that you’re proud of is a must.
Within your specialist niche, you want to be known as the first business to come to and if people search for you and find unprofessional online networking accounts – this lowers your chance of making any new business.
Social media and online networking profiles are now seen as your business cards so by providing value i.e. free tips and an eye-catching profile to visit – you will find that the follow button will be engaged with a lot more and conversions will skyrocket.
Prepare Your Small Talk
If you’ve been a guest of a networking event hundreds or even thousands of times like us, this may not apply to you anymore as you will begin to appear more comfortable when you’re in your natural state.
Nonetheless, we understand that people frequently struggle with the small talk aspect and is even sometimes what puts them off coming to an event altogether.
Should this be the case, we would recommend you prepare a three-to-five-minute talk about exactly what you do and what you’re planning to do.
However, it is not always about your business during networking and asking people about their plans too will be received very well by the vast majority of the audience.
Understanding the Speakers/ Audience
On this journey, you will listen to hundreds of speakers and meet thousands of people along the way. If a list is provided of who is there, it is a good idea to research the people who will be visiting.
If you’re on ‘jobs search’ duty, people will be impressed with your research and vice versa, if you’re a business owner who already has a good understanding of what they’re looking to achieve – you may be able to create a relationship quicker/ easier.
Now that you understand the benefits of networking and what you should be doing when preparing for a networking event, you will now have a better chance of succeeding in these situations.
Remembering to update your social media and online networking accounts to a professional standard, preparing your small talk with a 3-to-five minute plan (with added questions to ask) and researching the speakers/ audience to make a good first impression are the key takeaways for you to employ. Enjoy meeting new people and best friends for life with networking!
Mark is a multi-award winner in business networking and relationship building. He is passionate about coaching and mentoring business owners and professionals through 1-1 & group coaching, team performance workshops and group mastermind sessions.