Networking – some people are naturals at it, others need to work hard. Whatever your views you should remember that it is one of the most cost effective ways for small businesses to grow new business and get repeat work.
It is estimated that networking and word of mouth advertising are jointly likely to bring in seven times as much business as any other form of advertising. And generally it is free.
Here are my 5 top tips:
• Choose wisely. There is little point in wasting energy going to every event you can find. Pick the ones that suit you best and make sure you attend them regularly.
• Plan your time. Expect to get to events early and be prepared stay late. You need to circulate and talk to people and you can’t do that while a meeting is taking place.
• Remember who you’ve met. If you see them at another meeting ask them how they are getting on with the difficult client they mentioned before. Build relationships and make key contacts. Make sure you are sincere, however.
• Follow up leads. If you have promised to send someone a brochure, make sure you do. Then at the next meeting ask them if they got it and what they thought about it.
• Be generous. If you pass on tips or referrals people will remember you. Hopefully this may lead to future business for you too.