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Top tips from pro-manchester

Top tips for maximising your networking opportunities with the SME Club

13th August 2019, 8:00 am

Networking today is no longer just about handing out business cards. Most industries are built on connections, credibility and reputation so networking is certainly one of the most important drivers for your business.

If you want to effectively network and build connections, you need to prepare, present value, and follow up. The good news is that social media and the internet make it much easier to prepare and follow up!

Here are the SME Club’s tips on how you can maximise your networking opportunities, build a valuable network and open the door to exciting new avenues. Don’t let your skills and talents go unnoticed. Network your way to the top!

1. Prepare and do your homework

Always take your business cards with you. Take a look at the attendance list before the event and research key individuals that are attending. Use social media as a tool to learn about interests, think about mutual ground topics, and be prepared to talk to them. Ask pro-manchester to introduce you to certain individuals or ask to be placed next to them at lunch. Make sure at the very least to read the paper in the morning so you are aware of current events of the day.

2. Be on the scene and be seen

Without doubt, the best way to build relationships and benefit from the abundance of business opportunities in any region is to get out there. This is especially true in such a well connected, collaborative city like Manchester. The more events you attend and the more people you meet will increase your network and raise your profile. This will also open you up to referrals and ensure you are always at the forefront of people’s minds when the next business opportunity or idea arises. That is not to say that you have to attend everything. Choose the events that are most suited to you, your business and your preferred networking style and make the most of them.

3. Arrive early

Definitely one of the most important points on the list. Arriving early will mean you are always going to be the first person people will approach. If you arrive late the majority of people will already be engrossed in groups and conversations and these can be hard to infiltrate. Arriving late also leaves little time for networking and conversations become rushed and often unproductive.

4. Be inviting

Networking is daunting for all of us so make sure that you are open and inviting to others. Don’t stand in closed groups and don’t play with your phone. Smile and make eye contact and make an effort to make approaches, especially to those you see standing on their own. The majority of the time they are just dying for someone to rescue them from the awkwardness of being there alone and not knowing who to talk to.

5. Make genuine connections

Networks are much stronger if the relationship between the members are genuine and real. It takes real commitment to be genuinely interested in the other person. People are more willing to go the extra mile for those they genuinely care about and have formed strong bonds with. You must be willing to be sincere if you expect them to do so with you. Smile, be approachable, be friendly. People will always naturally gravitate to the people that look nice.

6. Listen and take an interest in others

Take a genuine interest in others by asking good questions and being an even better listener. A decent conversation is a two-way street. It’s most definitely not all about you. Take your time to listen to what the other person has to say and take an interest. Ask open questions and let the conversation flow naturally.

7. Be yourself

Never try to be someone you are not. No one likes to be lied to or fooled, this will never end well. Be who you are. Be honest, warm and open to conversation and let the relationships develop naturally.

8. Follow up

Following up is the key to success of keeping momentum and stay on the top of others’ minds. You can search for the new people you meet on social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Drop them an email, invite them for a coffee and continue the conversation. This is where the real relationship begins.

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