It’s Time to GLOW at Networking Events
• Mar 17th 2022 • by GLASGLOW GIRLS CLUB • 0 Comments
Why Networking is Great for Your Business
We totally get it – networking can feel daunting, or even the last thing you might feel like doing, after a long week at work. Maybe you’ve struggled in the past to feel assertive, confident, and sociable, especially when chatting business to a group of strangers. But it doesn’t have to be a super nerve-wracking experience or feel like a chore, and once you start to meet people, feel more at ease, and build up a network of relationships with others, you’ll start to feel the benefits for your business.
As women, we are often socialised to be unassertive and to not take up space, but there are strategies you can use to ease discomfort, build confidence, and in turn let you and your business shine.
Networking is fantastic for finding other talented people with different strengths and skills to yourself. If you run your own business, you’ll likely find that clients keep asking whether you offer a product or service but feel you are unable to deliver it yourself; but say you met someone who could offer it, then the opportunity for partnership means that you’ll be able to offer more to your clients.
Even if the collaboration aspect is minimal and you simply refer your client to someone else, it demonstrates to clients that you are knowledgeable and well-connected. Furthermore, it shows you are honest about what you yourself can deliver, and assures clients that you’re committed to giving them the best service possible.
Of course, this works the other way around; the more people you know, the more likely you are to receive referrals from others, helping your business grow. It’s also useful to chat to other people in the business world so you can solve common problems together, or even just celebrate each other’s successes and create a community of support.
Think of it as an opportunity to be both social and productive, especially tricky to do nowadays with working from home a new norm. And while being friendly and approachable is half the battle, there are definitely effective ways to shine at networking events. Which leads us to…
Our 8 top tips for shining at networking events
- Introduce yourself in terms of what you offer and solve
Try not to introduce yourself in vague terms or simply by your job title, which may not mean a lot to people outside your company or industry. Instead, try to communicate what services you offer and what problems you solve. How you take your clients from A to B is always a great way to start, for when focusing on the transformation you provide, this is more likely to leave a lasting impact on those who you network with.
This is especially useful for speed networking events, where you’ll meet a lot of people in a short amount of time. Don’t be afraid to highlight your strengths, and be honest about your weaknesses; telling others what gaps you fill, and conversely that you have certain gaps to fill, is exactly how collaborations happen!
2. Be curious, show interest and ask questions
Be sure to ask questions and show interest in other people’s businesses, as you’re there to learn as much as you are to get yourself out there. It also allows you to create a dialogue and build relationships rather than focusing on the hard sale. Remember people buy from people who they know, like and trust and relationship building at, and after, networking events could later result in a sale.
Having questions ready for your expert host or panelists (if the networking event has them) is also a good idea, as this will get you noticed by both the experts and your fellow attendees.
Be curious. Never write anything off just because you initially think there is no business interest for you. Even if there might not be opportunity with their business, you never know who is in their network who they may later refer to you.
3. Go alone!!
Yes, we know this sounds scary but honestly you will always get more out of a networking event if you go alone. It is far too easy to stick with who you know, or a friend at a networking event when the nerves set in.
Granted if this is your first rodeo then perhaps having a colleague or friend present will enable you to gauge the lay of the land A good strategy in this instance might be splitting up for 15 minutes then reuniting, meaning that you have a familiar face to return to every now and then. It takes off some of the social anxiety of being in a room full of strangers, and will boost your confidence to chat to your friend or colleague afterwards about the conversations you had.
The GGC networking events are almost always speed networking events which ensures attendees get a chance to network with as many other businesswomen as possible without having to ‘work the room’ of their own accord.
4. Think of ice-breakers in advance
Having some ice-breakers, such as any up-to-date industry news to talk about, is a great way to prepare for any networking event.
Perhaps your ice-breaker could be something you’re wearing, such as a lapel or pin, or maybe think to ask others if they are wearing something eye-catching. This is useful because it encourages people to chat about themselves and their style, so you’ll get a sense of the person’s personality. Again, this is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most out of speed networking, as you’ll be able to fill in any silences with pre-prepared questions or news to chat about.
5. Get your exit strategies planned
This is less of a problem for speed networking, which provide a stricter structure than more traditional networking events, but still useful to know how to do. You may get caught up chatting to the same person or people, so in order to politely move on, you can suggest meeting up afterwards for coffee; connecting on LinkedIn to continue your conversation later; or even just say you don’t want to monopolise their time, and want them to have the opportunity to chat with others.
Alternatively, you can introduce them to someone you know or have met, so they have someone else to start getting to know once you move on. Having these graceful exit manoeuvres in your repertoire avoids awkwardness and helps you confidently move on to the next person or people you’re planning to chat to.
6. Be generous
And by generous we mean with your business tips and offers of referrals. You will always be remembered for being helpful, which could in turn lead to future leads.
7. Keep a little black book of networking contacts
Whether in a notebook, in a spreadsheet, or the notes in your phone, keeping a record of who you have met is a great way to remind yourself to follow up interesting conversations you had and pursue offers of coffee meet-ups or collabs.
It will help you hold sincere to your own offers of chatting to people you met after the event, as well as helping your memorability as you send off messages and emails in days and weeks afterwards. If you can, try to write down what you spoke about, their interests, and what they offer, so that when you chat to them again you’ll remember why you connected. This also means if you see the contact in future you can ask about their endeavours and they will likely be impressed at your level of care.
Even if you don’t follow up with an email, following the attendee on social media platforms including LinkedIn, can make it super easy to connect again.
8. Remember to breathe!
Social situations can be be anxiety-inducing for many people, so remember to breathe beforehand to calm your nerves. Remember that they are people too, and even if they come across as seasoned experts and as confident as big-time CEOs, they all had to build networks the same as you.
Arriving early can always help, so you don’t walk in already stressed or panicked for being late.
Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness are all fantastic ways to physiologically and emotionally prepare for a networking event. This may sound like a lot to some, but I have been known to meditate many a time before a networking event to calm my nerves and to help me visualise my desired impact on others.
And even if you are nervous, that can be an ice-breaker in itself for other nervous people there who will find comfort in the shared experience.
The GGC Final Thought
As cheesy as it sounds, the best way to be at a networking event is to be yourself. People are interested in you as a person as much as your business. There will naturally be people who you do not click with and that is ok. Focus on talking about how you help people and in turn be helpful to those you connect with and this will make you memorable.
It’s also good to bear in mind that there is no doubt that practice makes perfect. The more you network, the easier it will become both in terms of your own confidence as well as simply making yourself known to more groups of people, meaning you’re less likely to be in a room full of strangers each time. So with these tips in mind: go out and get ‘em, ladies!
The GGC Speed Networking Events
At the GGC our favourite type of networking event is speed networking, kick-started with an expert speaker. This means you leave having learned something new in business, whilst expanding your networks all in a oner!
I like speed networking because of its structure. You get to connect with a good number of fellow businesswomen and there is no having to work the room yourself, the organiser does that with the speed networking set up.
If you like the sound of this, then you are in luck! We have two networking events happening in April, one virtual (free for GGC Business Club Members and £5 for non-members) and one in-person (£10 for GGC Business Club members and £20 for non-members). Click the links below to find out more, I hope to connect with you there.
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