Networking and Marketing

Our new networking group goes from strength to strength, thanks to Social Media.Busy Third Friday Networking Group

Third Friday Brighton continues in grow in size, with record numbers over the last two months.  Huzzah!

In fact, it’s been so successful that we’ve had to find larger premises, so watch this space for news about a fantastic new venue.

The word is out there.  Our record attendee numbers have been due to making the most of social media channels to highlight and publicise both Third Friday Brighton and First Friday Lewes.  If you’re not already following us on Twitter, check out @3rdFriBton and @FirstFridayLewes.  We’re on Facebook, too,

Networking is one of the best marketing tools that you have at your disposal. Anyone can do it, how effective you are is down to you.  Nothing comes to you.  Ever.  Go out and get it!

Susan Beckingham has complied some networking tips for you.

Ten Essential Top Tips for Successful Networking.

Networking. The word that strikes terror into so many sane, competent people who run their own businesses. It’s up there with “smart casual” in its guaranteed-to-give-you-the-heebie-jeebies effect. Approaching total strangers and saying “hello”? Quite frankly, it’s just not very British, is it? Why can’t we just stay at home?

But hark: networking isn’t scary, it really isn’t. You could meet some great people – customers, associates, colleagues, even friends. At First and Third Fridays, Richard and I encourage informality, in fact that’s the name of the game. De rigeur, the norm. Other clichés are available.

There are no presentations or forced referrals. Nothing like that.

However, here’s the truth as I see it: I know that you’re really good at what you do. That’s not good enough. You have to get out of the house, meet people and explain clearly what you do, how you do it and to whom you sell. You need to develop some networking skills. Here’s my top ten tips on how to network.

1. Expectations

Do allow me to manage your expectations on this one. Avoid the mistake of thinking that you will find three or four new customers at your first networking event.

Remember, you’re after good contacts; they could be new colleagues, associates, referrals or even some new friends. Attend on a regular basis and your face will be remembered. When someone needs your services (and they like and trust you), they’ll be in touch, believe me.

2. Timescales

An expansion on point no. 1, really. Keep coming along. Do lots of networking – we understand that other networking events are available – and get your name out there. Whatever you do, please don’t go to one networking event just once. If you do, you’ll be 100% correct that “it didn’t really work for you”.

Networking is the long game and it takes time for people to get to know and trust you. Yes, it’s that “trust” word again.

3. Business Cards

OK, sorry but I’m going to shout: YOU NEED BUSINESS CARDS. You need business cards. Yes, you do. How on earth are people going to remember you if you don’t have any? Really now – what sort professional are you if you don’t have a smart, easy to read business card that contains your contact details?

Please don’t say that you “don’t believe in them” – they’ve been an effective part of business etiquette for a long time so do yourself a favour and get some printed. Thank you.

4. Smile

Seriously – you have a great smile so use it. At First and Third Fridays we like to introduce fellow networkers to each other if we can, but go on go on go on: approach someone, say hello and smile at them. The “rule”, if you like, is that people are welcoming, polite and friendly. They’ll make room for you and include you in the conversation. All will be well.

5. Elevator Pitch

OK, don’t panic. At First and Third Fridays we don’t do 60-second presentations, or any other presentations come to that. You do however owe it to yourself and to the growth of your business to develop an effective way to:

 Describe your business
 Demonstrate that you understand your market
 Set out clearly the benefits of your services

It’s not a sales pitch. It’s never a sales pitch, by the way. It’s about genuinely impressing others with a fantastic first impression. Nuff said.

6. Positivity & Professionalism.

Engender confidence in your services or products. Be enthusiastic. Without boasting, tell stories about your satisfied clients. Any negativity about what you do, your competitors, or even the event itself will not go down well. If you love what you do (and if you don’t, why are you doing it?), it will show.

7. Be Mobile

Don’t sit down. Yes, I know this is tough on the old knees but standing up gives you confidence and enables you to move around the room should a conversation come to a natural end. It keeps energy levels up and you’ll meet many more people that way.

8. Good Manners at All Times

Always important but especially so in a business context as you’ll meet several people you’ve not seen before. So, don’t interrupt, always demonstrate active listening and show a genuine interest in what your fellow networker does. Disagreements on a certain subject are fine but you WILL be asked to leave if you’re rude to someone within my hearing. Just saying.

9. Appearance

Now come on. If you turn up looking like a bag of spanners, you’ll not make a good first impression, unless you’re actually promoting spanners and that, I doubt. Suits aren’t compulsory any more but best food forward, ladies and gentlemen. Lickety spit, make an effort.

Turn up in an old top, shorts and flip flops and you could be the best website developer in the whole wide world and you’ll look like you don’t charge enough. Capiche?

10. Follow Up

Do make contact as soon as you can after the event. If you’re keen to meet someone again, tell them so and then keep your promise by following up within three to four days, sooner if possible. Even if you know that you won’t do business with them, email anyway as quite frankly, you never know. And, it’s good manners.

So, there you are. See you at First Friday Lewes and First Friday Brighton. Toodle Pip.

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