Winning tactics for business networking success
Not a fan of networking? Think again. The Office Group has tips to maximise on the opportunity "to be a walking, talking advertisement for your business"
Networking can be a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it.
Regardless, it is an integral part of running a successful business and can be a great way to expand your professional network. Yet, for many, walking into a room of unfamiliar faces can fill them with dread.
You can often find yourself huddled in a group of total strangers talking awkwardly about the weather or remarking on the size or decor of the room; it’s no fun and certainly not a savvy way to make new contacts. Nobody wants to face awkward silences and glances and to ultimately come away from an event feeling it was a waste of time.
For this reason, many entrepreneurs don’t attend enough networking events, meaning they could be missing out on the opportunity to be a walking, talking advertisement for their business and to develop mutually beneficial relationships.
The more people you can speak to, the better, so it’s important to make a connection immediately. With a short amount of time, what you need next is a killer opening line to break the ice and tackle a room full of strangers without fear.
Know who you’re meeting
Make it personal. Get your hands on a guest list before the event and do your research. The internet is littered with details about our professional lives, so use this to your advantage in order to strike up conversations and make new business contacts.
Read the headlines before you get to the event
Spark a debate by talking about something topical in the news that day, related to your business or industry.
Not only is this a great way to show off your expertise, it can also be extremely useful to hear the opinions of your peers.
Fuel up and talk
While grabbing some food and drinks is great for replenishing your energy supplies, the buffet stand is also a great location to meet people. This is where the action happens, so rather than lurking at the side of the room, ask about the dish your peer think looks good and get stuck in. What better way to make a new connection than over the mutual love of sushi?
‘What do you do for fun when you’re not working?’
Asking personal questions about your peer’s activities outside of work can help solidify a connection. This can bring some humour into the conversation while also letting you get a gauge on the things that interest them.
If you genuinely like something that someone is wearing, compliment them; without being inappropriate. Not only will they be flattered, but you can also ask a follow-up question about where they got the item that could lead to another conversation and maybe even a business card!
Alessa McNally is community manager at The Office Group (TOG).