How to Network the ‘Right Way’

As all entrepreneurs know, time is money, which means that the time we spend networking is just as precious as finding the funding for your enterprise.
But how do you maximize your network and meet whom you want and/or need? Here are some real life tips on what we believe are the best ways to network:

Pitch –Elevator speech.  Be prepared for networking at any point and remember to highlight the important aspects of your business. It’s essential that you know your strengths and skill set, ready to bring to the table. Be prepared to talk about yourself and point out why (compared to everyone else) you could help them, either now or in the future.


Small talk and chitchat. Making conversation for some people is very hard to start off with, but its much like chatting with a new acquaintance. Get a feel for the conversation and don’t worry if it feels a bit unnatural at first, remember to smile and be confident in your abilities. 

Top Tips for chitchat

Look for something you have in common with the other person, maybe ask questions in order to find an anchor in the conversation.
Remember conversation is a two way street, give a little in order to get something back. 
Listen to the individual and get to know them.
Encourage the other person to continue the conversation and share different experiences you’ve had in relation to the anchor.

Business cards. These always come in handy and add a professional edge to your business. Make sure your business cards include your own picture or an image of your product or your logo (etc.); people will remember your company more vividly this way. Don’t over do the contact information on your cards, simply stick with your name, preferred method of contact, a web site or blog URL, and a picture.

Follow up. Remember to stay in contact with your new contacts, and if you’ve promised to introduce someone to a person you know, take the time to do so. A quick email can make all the difference and will put you in their favour. Little favours like this mean a lot a people will get to know you and your business, and more importantly remember that your reliable.

Top Tips for follow-ups

No one you’ve networked with is unimportant. Your going to meet people you don’t (at the time) need to know, (that’s just a part of networking), but you never know what the future will hold! So keep hold of their details. Also with this practice, you’ll get better at spotting the people worth knowing.

There are people out there who will try to take advantage of your kindness, individuals who will ask for favours and never try to help you in return. When this happens turn them down as politely as possible and make yourself scarce to them. Don’t act cold or negatively because that’ll give them something negative to say about you.


Be different. If you’re networking at an event you need to make you and your business stand out. Set yourself apart by thinking before you speak.  Don’t worry over a few pauses when you’re thinking about what you’re going to say, by worrying over the flow of the conversation you may well forget about listening to the other person and responding in turn. 

Extras!

Use the Internet to network. The Internet is an amazing resource; pursuing networking online with a group of like-minded individuals has become a whole lot easier. Check social media, forums, listings and classifieds for local events or meetings that are likely to attract people with similar interests or passions. Its not only looks good on your CV that you’re involved in a special-interest group, but it will give you the opportunity to meet “the right people” online and offline.

It’s all about strengthening your relationships with allies and puts you in contact with individuals you otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet. 

More top tips!

Always look to be approachable and charming. Over time, it will come naturally when meeting and greeting strangers.

Start off small when starting your network. A network requires maintenance so build yourself up slowly.