14 tips of how to use networking to support your business

business network
business network

As far as networking is concerned, there is still no substitute for face-to-face meetings. Sarah Weller reveals how her participation in networking has helped to forge valuable new contacts, and offers some good advice on how to make the most of networking opportunities.

“I became what I would call a serial non-worker. In any given month, I can go to a number of networking breakfasts, a number of evening events, a trade show or two, and training where possible. I never realized how many networking groups there were in Bristol until I really got into it. There are many ways in which you can meet other small entrepreneurs, from breakfast at work to bank shares. There is something on the menu for everyone if you know where to look, ” says Sarah Weller.

She further clarifies: “LinkedIn is a great way to connect with groups of people and learn about meetings. I also ask people where they network and I often find out about new meeting places.“

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Why to network?

“Simply, if people don’t know who you are and what you can do, they never call you. Yes, you can advertise, but that doesn’t give you a chance to learn about your customers, build long-term relationships and have a good talk. The point is that you see these people often enough to build a relationship – so you are selling your business not just to the people you meet, but to all their clients.“

“I like it, too! It’s true that I don’t always get into my car for breakfast at 6: 45 with a smile on my face but I do get in it right after my morning tea. As a small entrepreneur, you can easily become completely isolated and self-absorbed. It’s always good to get a second opinion, find out what others are doing and what’s new, otherwise you might find yourself left behind.“

Quote of the Day from Trish Bertuzzi

Tips on how to make the most out of networking

  • Let people talk about themselves first, so you know how to adapt what you say about your company to suit them. 
  • Don’t just tell people what you do, hundreds of people can do exactly the same thing. Tell people why they should give a chance to you. And think about that in an innovative way. Do not use phrases like ‘ best / fastest / most effective / creative ’. On the other hand, if you say something like ‘ we have made it possible to improve the customer satisfaction rating by 55% ’, it is worth listening to. 
  • Don’t be afraid to take examples from your work if it helps to explain it. 
  • Don’t give up because you didn’t get the deal the first time. Networking is about building long-term relationships – it is not a quick fix. 
  • Always have business cards and lots of pieces – you’d be surprised how many people come without them. 
  • Be memorable. 
  • Listen to the others and show that you’re listening. If you play with the phone while they’re talking, they’ll be less willing to listen. 
  • If appropriate, then send them personalized emails – but do not spread spam.
  • Do not turn your attention off just because you cannot sell to the person you are talking to – you may have a network of contacts and clients that can be useful. 
  • Don’t be afraid if you happen to be sitting next to a competitor. Talk about your differences – perhaps there is a business relationship that needs to be developed through the sharing of skills. 
  • Use case studies to reach out to actual customers. Give your work context. It makes him a lot more memorable. 
  • Try not to read the paper. Have confidence in your business – no one knows that better than you.
  • Don’t just stay with people you know. Obviously, you want to build relationships, so spend a little time talking about how they’re doing and reminisce about them, but then move on. Don’t sit at the table where you know everybody, they’ve already heard your two minutes. Go where you don’t know anyone, you can get more. 
  • The most important thing to remember, if you’re nervous about talking, is that everyone sitting around the table might feel the same way, and they’re just glad that you’re talking instead of them!
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