09 Oct Business Networking – Is it still worth it?
From breakfast baps and lunches in swanky hotels, to 6’oclock cocktails and delicious/meticulously planned dining experiences, there is a plethora of business networking opportunities – each heralding their events as the ‘best’ way to make new connections. But with so many options, is business networking still valuable, or are we all mostly just tempted by the free food or fancy venue?
Almost every professional can probably attest to a time when they attended an event and subsequently ended up being stuck in a conversation with a person completely unrelated to their business. It’s only when the inevitable question of ‘what do you do’ arises, that both parties make their excuses and awkwardly move off to grab another coffee, knowing there is now no new business lead to be had.
However, according to Virgin, 85% of people still prefer face-to-face interactions as it builds strong, more meaningful business relationships. Much can be said for meeting people in person, from building what could be the start of a long, fruitful business relationship, to raising and expanding your own self-awareness and understanding.
‘It’s not what you know, it’s who know’ still rings true today, and in any sector where competition is rife, a human connection can prove to be extremely valuable. Business networking is crucial in forming these new connections, and if done properly can enable everyone, from junior team members to senior staff, to share, learn and gain insight from each other.
But before you say ‘yes’ to that email invite, how can you know that the event is worth attending, and more importantly, how can you be sure that you will meet the decision makers you want to be in front of? To help we have provided some of our ‘top tips’ to help you decide whether an event offers more than just a deluxe sandwich.
Know who is attending: Ask organisers for more information on the types of people attending – including sectors and job titles. This can prove priceless and if relevant, allows you to do your research before being introduced.
Have a hit list: Make a list of the people and businesses you want to be involved with. Keep up to date with their latest news, movements and events. Having an idea of who you want to work with will not only help you to network more strategically but will also ensure that you meet the ‘right’ people.
Get to the point: When you happen to meet a potential client or are simply unsure as to whether a conversation could be the start of a new business relationship, just ask. ‘Would you be interested in’ or ‘have you ever thought about X’ will often open the door to future business conversations, as well as saving you precious time when circulating a room.
Seize opportunities: So along with a full stomach, you now have a collection of business cards, what do you do next? Strike while the iron is hot and contact new connections quickly after an event. Whether it’s asking to meet for a coffee to talk more, or inviting them to meet the team, be sure to make the most out of the people you meet. While a lead may not pan out straight away, staying in contact could help to foster new opportunities in the future.