Tips for succesful networking

1.  SMILE! Yes that first impression is so important so remember to smile when you book in and when you introduce yourself to people.

2.  Once you’ve booked in the best place to start is at the tea/coffee table – there is always a conversation to be had there – especially if the coffee machine is sounding like it is about to explode as it did at one meeting I was at recently!

3.  If you don’t know anyone look around for a small group of people and go and say hello. “Hi I’m Mel, can I join you as I don’t know anyone here / not been to this meeting before?”

4.  Remember we network to meet people so people will be very happy to chat to you and the best subject to start off with is … “networking”. Where, how often, which groups do they like and why … and before you know it you are chatting away happily.

5.  At some point someone will ask what you do, so have a couple of brief sentences prepared that are easy to understand but most importantly, sound enthusiastic when you tell people – if you love what you do people will remember you. But don’t go on for too long – give them a chance to tell you about their business too.

6.  If you have had a good chat with someone but need to move on don’t stress about this just say “it was really lovely to meet you but we had both better go and chat to some other people now”. This is why you are there – to meet people – it is not a problem to say so.

7.  However from a personal perspective something I particularly enjoy about attending other meetings (i.e. when I am not organising them!) is that it will often give me the chance to have a proper in depth conversation with someone I already know. So if that is the case and you are having a really good conversation then don’t worry about circulating round the room.

8.  Never just go round the room spending thirty seconds with everyone giving out business cards – it achieves nothing – so I do mean never do this!

9.  All groups are different – both in terms of structure and the “feel” of the group so try lots until you find one where you fit in.

10.  Successful networking (like all things marketing) takes time. You need to attend regularly so that people get to know you and most importantly, remember you. So when you have found a group where you feel comfortable put their dates in your diary for the rest the year straight away.

11. The people that get the most out of networking are those that put the most in – so look out for people standing on their own and go and talk to them, make introductions if you think two people could work together, pass on your expertise and knowledge to help people… because we remember the person not the business.

12.  Finally, the balancing act. We are all there to promote our business and I believe very strongly that you do this best by demonstrating professionalism and expertise in everything that you do. However I also think that networking should be fun – I certainly love it – it is great meeting so many interesting people and finding out what they do. I always tell people that at Coffee and Connect we are very friendly and have lots of smiles and laughter but we are also all very serious about our businesses too. So make sure you get your own personal balance right.

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