Recently we have been doing a LOT of networking, attending events and organising them, to get to know how this benefits a small business and if it truly can help grow your business.
As a small independent local business ourselves we share the same understanding of running a business and what advice and support is needed. We felt that networking could be a really good avenue to become part of the local business community and let people get to know us and what the company offers.
We thought we would share some tried and tested methods to help you boss small business networking like a pro...
1. Get out of your comfort zone
It can be super daunting walking into a room of strangers and talking confidently about your business, however after you do it once you will see that everyone is in the same boat and its always way easier than you think. You leave punching the air (metaphorically speaking hopefully) and feel you are a more than capable and confident.
2. Do some prep
Look at who the networking is aimed at and the potential attendees, prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ about you and your business. Make sure you have lots of business cards and any marketing materials on you. Think about what you hope to achieve from the session and be open about that if given the opportunity.
3. No one likes a hard sell
Yes this is a great opportunity to find new potential clients, however no one wants to feel they are being sold to. When you meet someone, introduce your self and firstly enquire (and actively listen!) about their business. Find something you have in common or something you know about their industry and ask questions. Once you have built a good conversation flow, ask the question ‘is there anything I can do to help you’ or ‘what could you do with my help on?’
4. Evening networking
Drinks help. Just don’t go crazy. Stop at one.
When you meet someone and it becomes clear they don’t need your services, think about other people (or potential clients) you know who they might benefit from knowing them and put in an introduction. Giving away free advice and sharing contacts helps build trust and even if they don’t need you now, they might need you in the future or know someone else who does. If you have helped them in a small way you will be remembered favorably.
6. Moving away
Let’s be honest, you are speaking to someone and its clear the conversation is exhausted and you see a really interesting potential client getting her coat on to leave you need to move away sharpish – how do you do this and not be rude? Just say ‘Do you know xxx, could you introduce me’ or ‘it’s been great talking to you, do you mind if I just catch xxxx before she leaves’. People are not there to make lasting friends and won’t be offended so don’t feel you have to be very ‘British’ about it all!
Good luck, the more you do the better you will be.
If you are interested in attending our local business networking events in East London and West Essex drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org