7 top tips for networking newbies

We’ve all been there. You’ve plucked up the courage to go to your very first networking event but you’re standing in the corner sipping your drink and peering over the rim of the glass choosing who you might approach. If you’re not used to networking, it can be really daunting and frankly, really hard. But businesses are built on relationships so if you want your business to grow and thrive, we definitely recommend getting yourself out there and learning to network effectively.

So if you’re a networking newbie, we’ve put together some top tips to help you out next time you’re networking.

1. Be yourself
They say to save the best until last, but this one is so important, it needs to go first. Networking is all about building relationships so there is no point putting on an act – because you’ll have to keep it up for a very long time. Just relax and be yourself and everything else will flow from there.

2. Don’t try to sell
How annoying is it when salespeople stop you in the street to try to push their services on you? Pretty annoying. So why do people try to do, what is essentially the same thing, at networking events? Yes, of course you should introduce yourself and what you do, but you should be aiming to increase your connections and find out about other people rather than pushing your services. (Still, don’t forget your business cards).

3. Prepare an ‘elevator’ pitch
We’ve all stumbled over our words and ended up feeling embarrassed. So prepare a 30 or 60 second speech about who you are and what you do. Imagine you’re in a lift and you’ve got to introduce yourself before the other person gets out on the next floor. After a while you’ll know it off by heart and it will come out sounding really natural.

4. Take a friend
Bringing a friend or colleague is a great way to feel a little bit more comfortable. You don’t have to remain joined at the hip though. In fact we’d suggest each speaking to different people, but at least you’ll know one friendly face in the room.

5. Think about how you can help others
If you know who will be going beforehand, why not do a little bit of research on them? We’re not talking about going into full-on sleuth mode and scrolling back through their ‘08 holiday photos on social media. But checking their LinkedIn profile and company website means you’ll know something about them before you meet them which could be a great way to break the ice. You can also think about ways you could help with their business, for example suggesting people that may need their services, or other services they may need.

6. Start small
Some networking events or groups are made up of hundreds of delegates so choosing one of those as your first event really would be jumping in at the deep end. We’d recommend starting off with a paddle at a less intimidating event, or even practising your networking skills with friends of friends.

7. Follow up
Networking doesn’t end when the event is over. It’s really important to follow up with the new connections you’ve made by dropping them an email and possibly even arranging to meet up again. It’s also a nice idea to follow their business Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account and LinkedIn profile, and then interact with their content to show your support.

So there you have it – our 7 top tips for networking if you are a complete newbie. The more you network, the more it will become second nature, so just get yourself out there and start talking.

If you’d like to put these tips to the test, we’re hosting a marketing networking event on August 15th, with regular events to follow. To find out more or to book on, email jason@workbenchoffices.co.uk