6 Ways You Can Improve Your Networking

10-12 Maidenhead networking

6 Ways You Can Improve Your Networking

For some people, networking comes as naturally as breathing. Sadly, most of us aren’t those people, and networking successfully is something we have to work at. Much more than rocking up somewhere to get coffee, networking is a vital part of our marketing efforts, and something we pay a lot of attention to. But if you’re not a natural networking, it can seem a little tough to work out how to change what you’re doing and get the most out of your networking efforts. So today, we have 6 easy and simple ways you can improve your networking this month and see real results. 

Have A Plan

Let’s go back to basics. Why are you going networking? What is it you’re looking for, and how will you find it? Having a strategy for networking might seem a bit rigid, but in reality it’s a vital part of success. For each event you go to, know what kind of person you want to speak to, and how you plan to find and approach them. It might be that you’re asking for introductions to a certain type of person, or you’re going to a networking group of people in only that industry. Planning out your approach will also keep you more focused when you’re in the room, leading to a better quality experience.

Prepare Your Pitch 

In many networking groups, you will be given the chance to stand up and deliver a pitch to the room. It’s usually short – anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute – which means you need to know exactly what you want to say before it’s your turn to stand up. We see too many people fumble over their words and waste their precious time, in what could be a powerful pitch session. But if you prepare your pitch in advance, you will be able to deliver it more confidently and get your point across in the way you want to. Not only that, but you can look up a specific person you want to be introduced to, and ask if anyone knows them in your pitch. Specific requests often lead to people following up on your behalf, or even knowing the person you’re asking for. It’s an incredibly powerful thing to do, so why not take advantage of it? Remember, specific is terrific!

Speak to Everyone

If you’re attending a regular networking event, it can be all too tempting to fall into speaking to the same people over and over again. And while it’s true that networking is all about building those relationships, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of forging new ones. When you go to an event, try and speak to everyone in the room, if only briefly. Getting bogged down with one or two people can mean you don’t network as freely, and you could miss a crucial introduction. So if someone new walks into the room, or even someone who you haven’t spoken with much, make a point of having a conversation. You never know where it might lead.

Arrange 1-2-1’s 

During the meeting, you don’t have much time to get to know each other. Even in our 10-12 meetings, where we give you 2 5 minute 1-2-1’s, it’s still not really enough time to build that relationship up. So it’s important to arrange to meet people outside of the time pressures of a meeting. 1-2-1’s are where the real business is done – where you can discuss the details of your products and services, and find those sparks of interest or collaboration. But so many people don’t make the time to have them. Even if you just set aside an hour after the meeting to chat with someone over a coffee, you will see your networking improve and your success increase. Honestly, we can’t advocate for 1-2-1’s enough. 

Try New Groups 

There’s nothing like a change of scenery, and that goes for networking as well as life. The sad reality is that if you just stick to one group, eventually you will reach saturation point, and you will get nothing more out of it. To really improve your networking reach, you shouldn’t be afraid to try out lots of different groups. Visit different areas, different networks and even groups who meet at different times of day. You’ll meet a lot more people that way, and widen your network even more. This extra exposure will help to grow your business, your network and your skills quicker than anything else. 

Follow Up!

And finally, don’t forget the follow up! This is the thing we wish we could shout from the rooftops at every single networking event throughout the country. Having a great conversation in the room is one thing, but translating that into business outside the room is another. Too many people assume others will follow up with them, when in reality, you’re both thinking the same thing. So many opportunities are wasted because leads aren’t followed up, emails aren’t sent, LinkedIn requests aren’t issued and phone calls aren’t made. So if you take one thing from this blog, let it be to follow up on all of your conversations in the room!

 

At 10-12, we’ve worked hard to build a culture of community, sharing and learning within our groups. That’s why we offer you 1-2-1’s in the meeting and even break out sessions to discuss business topics and exchange tips. In fact, the points above actually came out of a breakout session at our Reading meeting this month – so these are tips from our members, and ways they feel they could all improve their networking skills. If you’d like to join our community, or just see what 10-12 is like, just get in touch with us today, or book your visit here.


10-to-12-business-club presentations

Preparing A Killer Pitch

A lot of things can happen in 60 seconds:

250 babies are born around the world, 1.8 million ‘likes’ are made on Facebook and Americans eat 21,000 slices of pizza. But what can you do in 60 seconds?

In networking circles, you have between 40 and 60 seconds to pitch your business to a room full of potential collaborators, sales people and customers. So what you say in that pitch is really important. Which is why it kills us to see people waste their time with something thrown together at the last minute. So this month, we have a few tips to help you put together a killer pitch for your next networking event.

Actually Prepare!

We see this all too often – people will book on to networking weeks in advance, but when they turn up on the day they make up their pitch on the fly. Now, some people are very good at this – just standing up and speaking about their business in a way that both explains what they do and convinces people to talk to them, in the space of 40 seconds. But more often than not, it’s obvious that they haven’t prepared. So our first tip is simply to actually prepare! You only need spend 5 minutes thinking about what you’re going to say and putting it on paper, and the impact on your pitch will be incredible. Some of our members even prepare them in bulk – sitting down for half an hour at the beginning of each month and writing out a range of pitches, so that if they can’t write a new pitch the day before the event, they can just pull out a pre-prepared one instead.

Focus On Value 

Odds are unless you do something truly, spectacularly unique, most people in the room will at least have a vague knowledge of what you do. So instead of reeling off a laundry list of your services, focus on telling them room how you add value to your customers. What do you do that makes you better than your competitors, and keeps your customers coming back to you time and time again? This gives them all the information they need to go out into the world and sell your business on your behalf, and is a great talking point for those who want to find out even more about what you do. In a world full of commodities, everything is about added value – so what’s yours?

Tell Stories

People connect with stories. They do not connect with lists of services, followed by ‘if I can help let me know’. If you’re in a crowded room full of businesses all pitching, you want to make sure you stand out. And you can do that by telling them a story that will make them remember you. It can be a real story of how you helped a customer, your spin on something you read in the news or even a made up scenario to illustrate a point. But the human brain is designed to lap up stories, and some of the best business pitches are ones that don’t sell, but tell.

Be Specific

If you’re a member at a regular networking event, then after a while everyone is going to know what you do. So instead of just repeating yourself every time, you should alter your pitch so that you can see some benefits. Before each meeting, pick one of your current prospects. Someone you’ve been struggling to get hold of, or who you would just love the opportunity to talk to. Then ask for an introduction to that person in your pitch! It’s not always about the people in the room, but about their own networks and connections as well. Specific pitches are much more likely to result in action, and you never know who knows the person you’re looking for. Honestly, if we had a pound for every time a specific pitch had been met with ‘He’s my next door neighbour!’ we’d be rich. In fact, I attended a networking event just last week where a man asked to speak to a specific woman within an organisation by name. In response, another man in the room stood up and said ‘Yeah, I can introduce you to her. She’s my wife!’.

If you would like to get some more advice about pitching to a room, or would like to try out your new pitching skills on a lovely group of supportive women, then we can help you. Just check out our meetings schedule and come along to one that suits you, or get in touch with us today for more information.


festive networking tips

Top Festive Networking Tips

Ok, hands up who’s already put their Christmas tree up?

*  raises hand *

I thought so. There’s just something infectious and cheerful about the Christmas season few ca resist. And as the year draws to a close, we start to look back on the year and remember all those people who have helped us make it a success. If you’re an avid networker, many of those people will be fellow business owners who frequent the same events as you. So this year, why not show them how much you appreciate their support, and make the most of the Christmas season, with our festive networking tips.

Steer Away From Work Talk 

While the idea behind networking might be all about generating business, the real value has always been in building relationships. So if you’ve spent 11 months talking about business, customers and strategic alliances, take December to do something different. Whether you’re at a Christmas networking event or your groups Christmas meal, get to know the people around you on a personal level. Talk about your families, what you’re doing for Christmas, your hobbies. By spending the time getting to know the people behind the business, you are building stronger relationships based on mutual like and trust – a key essential to successful networking!

Don’t Drink Too Much 

Particularly when it comes to December, many networking events will bring out mulled wine and minced pies for their final meeting. This is a great way to get people chatting, reward them for coming along and start a lot of great conversations. But they are also a bit of a risk. Christmas dinners or free drinks can spell disaster for anyone who tends on a bit overboard, or just doesn’t keep track of what they’re drinking. No one enjoys watching someone humiliate themselves after one too many drinks, and it will do a lot to harm your professional reputation. So, if there is alcohol available at your event, just be sensible with it.

Work The Room

It’s all too easy to get sucked into a conversation with the first person you see, and suddenly realise the whole event has gone by. Festive meetings are usually a lot busier than usual, so use the opportunity to work the room and talk to everyone. Try and find people you haven’t met yet, or had more than a brief ‘hello’, and get to know them a bit more. Don’t end up as a conversation hog – it’s not good for you or the person you’re monopolising!

Relax! 

Above all, relax! Christmas is a time for fun, laughter and wine. (But maybe not too much of the latter, as we explained earlier). Festive networking is often the time that even the most staunchly professional let their hair down a bit and unwind. So don’t try too hard, and don’t send yourself mad trying to figure out how you can crowbar in a festive joke that also promotes your business (trust me, it rarely ends well). Instead, just focus on relaxing, chatting with people and having a good time. After all, it’s what Christmas is for!

 

At 10-12, we’re all for having a bit of festive fun. It’s why we’re currently gearing up for our annual Christmas lunch, which brings together members from all of our groups in one place for a full Christmas meal. Complete with crackers, secret Santa and, of course, plenty of laughter. If you would like to try out 10-12, December is one of the best months to visit. Just take a look at our meetings and choose one to come along to. We can’t wait to have you!