What's the best way to prepare for networking?
Networking is essential to any business. When you're in a room full of people you can have two outcomes - you can leave with a good basis for a relationship or you can leave without anything. You should always be trying to build relationships and gain contacts.
When you're working with a limited amount of time, you should always go in with a strategy on how you are going to win over the people in the room. So let's look at how you can network in a better way.
You should be preparing for each networking event in advance. By doing this, you are increasing your opportunities of coming away from the event with valuable contact information. A good way of doing this is by joining in on any pre-event buzz that's happening. This may include joining in on conversations on social media and talking to others who will be attending. If you find someone you'd like to talk to in person during this stage, you can then arrange to meet up at the event.
The main key point at this stage is to have an active online presence and a top notch website. Both of these things should reflect your company's values and branding. The reason for you having a website, is that anyone you make contact with will probably look your company up to see what you do and what your values are. This will help them to determine how much of an asset you will be as a contact.
Preparing your "Elevator Pitch"
This is what you'll be saying when someone asks about your business, what do you do, how long have you been going, what other companies do you work with, etc. So, what do you do?
Get straight to the point, you should explain what your business does and the problems you solve for your clients. You should say why you are unique in the way that you're solving the problems. Also mention any big brands that you've worked with as this will help to add credibility to what you do.
Don't forget to keep it natural. You should be reflecting your personality - no one wants to work with a robot (or talk to one).
Exchange your details
You've talked about your company, and hopefully, they've done the same. Now you should be exchanging your details. A good way to do this is to leave them with a business card. Your card should have all of your details on it (name, job title, company name, phone number and email address at a minimum), and should be laid out professionally. Business cards are fairly cheap to produce and can leave a lasting impression with anyone that you meet with.
Follow it up
After some time has passed after the event, maybe the day after you'll need to send some form of follow up to those you made contact with. This could be a text message, phone call, email or even a shoutout on social media. This will help you to cement ties with your new contact. Remember: Always use your company's email, phone number or social media account - never your personal one.
By following up, you're showing that you're sincere and that you want to work alongside the others. However, if you only contact them when you want something from them, you're showing that you're almost using them and this won't go down very well.
Networking can feel awkward and daunting. You may feel afraid to make your voice heard to begin with, but as you go to more events and find your feet you'll wonder why you were ever afraid to begin with. Just remember that preparation is key. With the right prep work in place you can grow your contacts and help your business to flourish.