Networking events…what’s the point?
We all know the value of contacts and the benefits of networking to develop them. But with so many networking opportunities available, how do you decide where and when to spend your valuable time, and how do you get the most out of the networking events you go to?
Which to attend is often a matter of convenience, and it’s certainly got to be convenient for you to get there. Most importantly though it is about who you might meet – are the other people attending of potential use and value to you and your work or business? Does the event offer some common ground or interest for those attending – to make introductions and conversations that much easier?
The Yorkshire Society is a not-for-profit organisation for people who love Yorkshire. It’s managed by members and volunteers and has a growing corporate membership. One of The Yorkshire Society’s stated aims is ‘to bring the people of Yorkshire together for business and pleasure’. So, we decided to start holding our own networking events, not-for-profit, where God’s own County and the pride and camaraderie it generates is the common interest. And because of that they are both productive and enjoyable, as any good networking event should be.
The Yorkshire Society’s networking events are open to members and non-members and there is no fee or hidden to cost to attend. We just want to bring people together for business and pleasure, not for profit! So, if you do come, bring plenty of business cards and a smile; it’s all you really need. But just in case, here’s a few networking tips to try out too:
- Don’t expect miracles. Networking is a process of getting to know people and people getting to know you. You are unlikely to get immediate orders or business so don’t expect it.
- Be the one to make the first move. Everyone is a bit nervous when meeting strangers, but they are only strangers until you have met them. Take the lead and introduce yourself, it will put you in the driving seat and make a good impression.
- Hold your head up high. There’s nothing worse than someone who does not have confidence in what they do. Be proud of who you are and the business you represent.
- Open your ears and your eyes. Take in everything you see and hear from others you talk to (or overhear). Show an interest in other people stories and try not to argue or criticise other people’s points of view.
- Value the connections you make. Understand the value of your new contacts might not be realised in the short term but over time. Guard your new relationships and cultivate them carefully.
- Trust is the crucial ingredient of any relationship, business included. Be straight and honest – it’s the Yorkshire way.
- The person you are talking to is always more important than you. Take an interest in the other person and get to know them and their situation. Ask questions but don’t pry and take a real interest in the answers you get to show you care.
- Extend your networking event with social media. Tell people who you met and why they might be of use to others – share your contacts and they will do the same for you.
- If you’ve got any more, please share!
Meeting new people doesn’t have to be a chore, a necessary evil. Go into networking with that attitude and it won’t produce anything for you. Pick and choose the networking events you attend and attend with a smile and an open mind and you will get results, though probably not immediately. Above all, enjoy the process.