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How to network at business events, even if you’re an introvert

  1. Bradley Biddlecombe

    Bradley Biddlecombe UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 0 Likes: 1
    3 |
    In association with The Business Show

    Attending trade shows, exhibitions, networking breakfasts or even sales meetings can be a daunting prospect for any person, not only for entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business.

    However, networking is an essential part of startup life and it isn’t something that should be feared, even for the biggest introverts among us. Here are some of our top tips, so you can make the most out of any future networking opportunities you find yourself in and make sure you’re confident about doing so.

    The Business Show is embarking on its 37th instalment on the 17 and 18 May - register for your free ticket now.

    Preparing for an event

    When you have chosen an event to attend, your attention must turn to how you can maximise your experience and get the full potential of the networking opportunities at your disposal.

    Preparation improves the first impression you give and sets out a purpose to your attendance, making sure you get the maximum value out of the money and time you’ve invested.

    • Develop and plan what you want to achieve from networking at the event - including what your goals are and how you can achieve them
    • Research the delegates and sponsors, noting what attendees would be beneficial for you to talk to both for business and as a learning experience
    • Establish an arsenal of conversational go-tos and builders, examples include: How did you get into your line of work? What made you come to this event? And, how did you find the last speaker?
    • Focus on avoiding generic networking spiel and come up with interesting rapport-building topics of conversation
    • Practice! No matter how much planning you do, nothing works better than putting your preparation into action - do test runs with colleagues, friends or even in front of the mirror, and see what works and what doesn’t

    Working on your introduction

    Introductions are the age-old situation that has troubled many people over the years, with constant fretting over what to say. There are a few tips that you can keep up your sleeve to ensure you pitch yourself correctly when doing your introductions.

    Firstly, know what you want to say about yourself by deciding upon a strategy to elevate your role or reason for talking to the person in question. By doing this, you alleviate the predictable listing of simply who you are and what you do by creating a specific-to-you pitch that leaves the listener with a developed and memorable idea of yourself. For instance, you could add an example of the work you do that’s relevant to their business or even involves one of their competitors.

    Remember, the only objective for your introduction is always just to lead on to further conversation about your chosen networking topic - just focus on building rapport in the meantime.

    Tips for keeping the conversation going

    If you have prepared for your visit to the networking event properly, you will have a reasonable idea of what to say and who to say it to. For conversations, there is always a few things to keep in mind:

    • Make the person you are speaking to the topic – If there’s a lapse in small talk ask them more about their role, why it’s interesting and what’s happening in their sector. This is a fantastic way for you to find some talking points
    • Tailor your speech to the listener – You can make a judgement on a person’s preferred interaction style and make sure that the way in which you are networking suits them. Are they more informal? Do they want to talk about industry news or just chat?
    • Pay attention to non-verbal communication – A listener’s interest can be accurately judged by paying attention to their reactions, placing you in an educated place to tailor the rest of the conversation. Pay attention to your own non-verbal communication, especially if you are a nervous speaker - always make eye contact, amend your tone of voice to suit the situation and, most importantly, smile! 
    • Anecdotes and client stories - The use of anecdotes and client stories is a great way of breaking down a nonchalant listener and making them engage. Stories relevant to what you eventually want to talk about often lead to an easy route of finding common ground and talking about your business

    Ending a conversation with a new contact

    Ending the conversation is the most important part of networking, so be memorable! If a conversation hasn’t been as productive as you had hoped then simply exit the conversation gracefully with something along the lines of ‘please do let me know how you get on with your work and don’t hesitate to get in touch if there's something you’d like to discuss anything further’.

    The key to a good ending, regardless of if the talk went good or bad, is to ensure that it ends open, allowing potential for the conversation to be continued at a later date. If a conversation did go well, then follow it up!

    The Business Show is the ultimate two-day event for startups and growing businesses, giving you the chance to network with thousands of other businesses and learn from over 250 seminars. It takes place on 17 and 18 May at the ExCeL in London - register for your complimentary ticket now.

    #0
  2. Bradley Biddlecombe

    Bradley Biddlecombe UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 0 Likes: 1
  3. deanpunchard

    deanpunchard UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 65 Likes: 10
    In my experience, people know people, so even if you find yourself talking to someone who you think isn't going to give you any "value", just remember they have a network too. I have found people will give referrals to their network, even if they have no need for what you're offering.
     
    Posted: May 18, 2017 By: deanpunchard Member since: Dec 30, 2012
    #4