The power of networking - how to expand your professional circle at events

When it comes to networking, there are two kinds of people. Those who embrace the idea of meeting other professionals knowing that it’s a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to growing your business and those who would rather have a root canal filling.

If you fall into the latter category, it’s time to realise the importance of forging a good, professional network. Business is as much about people as it is the goods or services on offer and getting to know key players in your industry is a must if you want to succeed.

Business networking events can be daunting, but like anything, once you learn the rules, get used to them and go to a couple, they can be enjoyable.

Here are 5 reasons why you should be networking –

  1. It adds to your social wellbeing, especially if you work from home for more than a few days a week
  2. It invites the exchange of ideas, which may inspire you
  3. It means you can meet people at all levels within your industry
  4. It boosts your confidence
  5. It improves your visibility

The most effective networking techniques for business are:

Industry events

When you attend industry specific events, you don’t have to worry about missing out on opportunities to connect with people related to your niche. Industry networking is nearly always productive. You have a chance to network with others in your industry, get ahead of trends and forge bonds with key players. And remember, be nice to everyone you meet because today’s intern is tomorrow’s CEO.

General networking events

If you have a local business, it pays to attend networking events in your area. These are usually held in hotels or restaurants and run by networking organisations. They usually charge a membership fee, but you should be able to attend at least one meeting for free to see if it’s suitable.

Join online communities

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that we can do business anywhere in the world from the comfort of our own homes. You might have to skip the bacon sandwich or the warm glass of wine, but you can still get access and build relationships with key people in your industry via online communities. A good way to do this is via LinkedIn.

How to make connections at events

When you attend networking events, do the following to get the most out of your time there.

  • Have a few deep and engaging conversations, rather than racing around and trying to get everybody’s business card.
  • Think about what you have to offer, for example, do you have good industry connections or are you an expert in a chosen field?
  • Bear in mind that you may not get instant results. A connection you make today, may bear fruit years down the line.
  • Find out what you have in common with the people you meet at networking events.
  • Follow up with those with whom you’d like to build a professional relationship.
  • Network wherever you go – you never know where you’ll meet a key contact.
  • Make sure your body language is appropriately friendly and inviting. Don’t be too overbearing, but let people know you are open to connecting.

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