I gave a talk at a business breakfast a few years ago about some of my insights on business networking.
I joined 4Networking in Bristol in 2009 and got my approach all wrong to begin with. The talk shared some of my early experiences and some hints and tips on how to get the most from business networking.
1. Your Attitude & Approach
Don’t go networking to sell, go along to listen and see how you can help people. Nobody is there to buy. Every one is there to market and promote their own business, products and services. So if everyone is there to sell, there is nobody there to buy. So stop selling and start listening.
2. What’s your Story?
You need your elevator pitch. If you were in a lift with Richard Branson and you had one minute could you tell him what you do and what your products and services are?
We recently did a deal with Warner Bros and we’re now offering email services for Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry! How cool is that?!!
I got the deal from a random approach I made at a brand licensing show in London just over a year ago. I walked up to the SVP of Warner Bros Consumer Products and I had about 30 seconds to explain what we did and to grab his attention enough that he would agree to meet with me.
My pitch was this, “Hi, I’m Dickie Armour from MyBrandEmail and we have a system….” The SVP interrupted me and said he didn’t have time as he was heading back to his hotel. But thankfully, I ignored him and continued… “We have a system that enables a brand like Warner Bros to sell email addresses to their fans. My daughter is 11 years old and she would love to be firstname.lastname@example.org”. The SVP smiled, told me he liked it and gave me his business card and said “Come to Paris for a meeting and tell me more.”
So you have know your story and have it clear in your head just in case you need to grab the attention of someone important to your business.
3. You’ll see the same people
A lot of people worry that they’ll just see the same people each week at networking events. But I love that! It’s unlikely you’ll do business together the first time you meet. People buy people, but only after they’ve got to know each other. And at most meetings there might be 20 or 30 people in the room. You can’t get to know all of them during a 2 hour meeting. So it’s good you’ll get the chance to see them again and again.
4. Friends? From a business networking event?
One of the amazing discoveries for me was that over time some these new business acquaintances would become friends! I hadn’t seen that coming. I was there to get business. But seriously, you will make friends from business networking.
5. Find new suppliers
There will be new suppliers who you will buy products and services from. If I now need anything for our business I can turn to 4Networking. Recently I needed some graphic design and a recruitment company and I used people I know from having met them through 4Networking.
6. Motivation & Confidence
You have to stand up and talk about your business each time you attend a meeting. This is really scary to begin with but over time yo get confidence and more motivated.
There’s nothing like a breakfast meeting with like minded people to get you motivated for the rest of your day.
7. Follow Up
Like with everything in life, you must follow up on any action you’ve said you’ll do. You might meet a new business contact at the next networking event you go to. If they say they would like information about your products and services then make sure you follow up. Get back to them the same day or by the end of play the next day at the latest.
These are just 7 of the insights I discovered about business networking.
I highly recommend joining 4Networking. It’s a national UK business network with over 5,000 breakfast meetings which are held 5 days a week, so they’ll definitely be one near you.
You can watch the full talk I gave on business networking below.