Although some of the conversation was around the power of using video with your business (and particularly online), which is Karen’s area of specialism, we invited her on as she is sometimes known as “the Queen of networking”, and given that networking was our theme for the show, we knew she’d be a great addition to the conversation. We were right.
I think one of the key issues for me is the style of networking group you work with. I split these into Grazing and In-depth.
When Grazing (http://www.businessbiscotti.co.uk/ and the like) you meet lots of people who you’ve not met before, have a brief chat and see if there is and ‘chemistry’ between you (of the business type, of course!). If there is, you may well swap cards, have a browse of eachother’s website and a one-to-one can then ensue, from which business, or referrals, or both, might emanate. Or might not. It’s a numbers game.
When networking In-depth (http://www.bni.eu/uk/, http://www.brxnet.co.uk/, http://www.refer-on.com/ and many more) you see mostly the same people every week, with those people learning more & more about you and your business (and vice versa). In this scenario, your primary objective is not to secure business from people in the room (although that’s always nice) but to enhance your reputation with them so that they feel comfortable (and knowledgeable) recommending you to other people.
Which is best?
Well, the “Harry Hill solution” is perhaps not applicable here!
The answer of course is that the question is invalid! A valid question would perhaps be “Which is best for you?”.
Different businesses, and different people within those businesses, get a range of benefits from each type of networking. This also goes for the various time slots – breakfast, mid morning, lunch or evening. There is no “best” – it’s about what works for you.
For me, there are 7 things you should always consider when networking, and they are……
1) Prep before the event
2) Don’t “sell sell sell” at an event
3) You need to talk, but you also need to listen!
4) Don’t interrupt an conversation in progress
5) Don’t have too much alcohol! Especially at breakfast!!
6) Don’t hand out your business card almost at random.
7) Always always follow up a contact.
How clever am I to know all that?
Well, I sort of knew it already, but the day after our show I became aware of the post at http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/bulletin/mtdailybulletin/article/1139781/the-7-deadly-sins-networking/ which expresses very well what I already sort of knew. Have a read, and you could do worse than to sign up for their daily bulletin.
One last plea, off topic. Please invest 15 seconds reading the page at http://www.enterprisedoctor.co.uk/charity . If you then want to invest a little cash, that will be much appreciated by the very deserving people at http://www.daisysdream.org.uk/ .
Have a good week!