When you first start up, you are totally bemused by the various means of marketing and ‘getting your brand, out there’, and will often just jump on the first bandwaggon that comes along without giving it any thought.
Work out who your target market is and if you can see them attending such meetings – not forgetting of course, that you are not only networking with the people you meet on the day, but also with the people they know who aint there!
So, you figure that perhaps its worth a shot – so next decision is, informal ad hoc meetings or join a ‘group’ and pay an annual subscription. Yep, more choices.
There are out there two sorts of networking events – those whereby you usually pay approx £10 to spend a couple of hours with a cup of coffee in a room full of people who, chances are, you won’t met up with again and pay no annual fee to. Then there are those infamous early start breakfast groups, where you join for a year and have the good old ‘referal slips’ ie some ‘encourage’ you to give business to other members.
You will find a variety of groups out there and a simple google for breakfast meetings and networking groups followed by your area, will call up a multitude of them for you to pick from.
Just make sure you take lots of business cards, a pen to jot down any quick notes about the person who gave you the card (handy when you have a room full of people to remember), do switch your phone to silent, and remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth, so use them in proportion. Listen to what they say and what you can help them with. Oh and never give someone a ‘lead’ just to make you sound good, make sure it stands half a chance of some business coming from it, otherwise you will soon pick up the tag of time waster.
But what if you are shy? Oh we all have those moments, but practice makes perfect – as my mother used to say – and smile! That gives the air of confidence you will need and it will attract people to you. Think about it, have you ever wanted to spend time with someone looking sullen??
So, go out there and enjoy your networking in whatever form it takes.