Making the most out of networking

Walking into a crowded networking event where you recognise no one can daunt even the most sociable business professionals.

Understanding why you’re networking and how to maximise any potential contacts you make is vital to help a business grow.

Here CEO of OfficeBroker.com Chris Meredith gives his top tips on overcoming networking event fears, and getting the most out of them for your business.

1. Understand why it’s important
One of the main reasons many professionals don’t network successfully is that they don’t see the benefits it can provide for their business.

Networking is the perfect opportunity for you to grow your social circle, find potential business partners, or even find a new job, so these events can be incredibly beneficial. Make sure you go with a positive attitude to help make a good impression.

2. Be prepared
A massive part of successful networking is making sure you are prepared. It might sound simple, but by making a small effort to prepare yourself for the day, you are likely to feel a lot more relaxed.

Make sure you have enough business cards and have researched where you’re going to reduce stress before you get there. You’ll make the best impression by being prepared.

3. Dress the part
The way you dress says more about your personality than you realise, so when you know you’re going to meet lots of new people, make a conscious effort to look presentable.

You should also make sure you’re comfortable in the outfit you’ve chosen. Wearing shoes that are too small or something you feel on show in will only add to your anxiety on the day.

4. Have a plan
Before you go to an event it is important to decide what you hope to gain from it. Do some research ahead of the event so you know if it’s likely to yield the types of contact you’re hoping to make.

Give yourself a goal of how many contacts you want to make and make sure that you pay attention to the different people you’re talking to, as you may need to use this information when making contact again.

5. Follow up after the event
Once you’ve come away from the networking event don’t waste time about. Make sure you make the effort to contact all the people you’ve met within 24 hours.

Don’t just send out a generic email, but personalise it discussing how you can work together, or let them know you took an interest in them by wishing them luck on their upcoming big project.