Networking - Does the following sound familiar to you?
You are commanded or feel obliged to go to a networking event. Your first instinct is to head screaming for the hills, or make an urgent appointment for that root canal work you have been putting off for weeks. Realising that there is no escape, you arrive as late as possible and skulk around the room, avoiding the more determined, fellow invitees who are relentlessly pursuing people. These are the serial networkers making eye contact with everyone and hoovering up business cards as they go.
You take part in the business card swap ritual while making very superficial conversation with other attendees and then escape as soon as possible. The next day you enter your new collection of business cards on to your database and then send out a generic email explaining your business to your new contacts. You wait for all the new business to come flooding in “ after all, you sacrificed a few hours of your life to attend the event. After a few days, you receive precisely nothing, or if you do, the emails you receive are politely unsubscribing from your mailing list.
Networking bah humbug is not working for me!
Of course, we exaggerate, but there is probably at least a glimmer of familiarity with something in this scenario.
Since we first developed the Workplace concept, we have been to every kind of networking event imaginable. After all, we are proud of Workplace. We want to evangelise on every possible occasion, to anyone who will give us the time of day (or evening on many occasions!). We want to invite them to our beautiful property, positive that we can change the way they work and allow them to work smarter, not harder.
Although we firmly believe that once you have visited Workplace, you will never want to hotdesk in a coffee shop or hold a meeting anywhere else. We believe that to make networking work for our business; there is a definite way of approaching these events. These relationships will not grow over a 5-minute chat; they take time and commitment. Here are our top tips.
- Forget business event - think relationship think social event and the opportunity to make new and lasting friendships. Of course, like everything in life, there will be people who you get and who get you, and others who you will never relate to, no matter how you try. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to seek out these new friends, and plant the seed for what could develop into a beautiful new (business) relationship.
- Be interested and exciting don't focus on what they can do for you and what you can do for them. Friendships don't work like this. You have to invest time in getting to know people, their interests, and what they like and feel and how they operate. Learn all about them. Make them want to find out more about you and want to stay in touch with you and find people about whom you feel the same. Only after this first flush of (business) attraction can you start requesting favours (or business opportunities). Give before you receive.
- Arrive on time if you don't like networking, arriving late seems like a good idea but by then the party has started. People are already in groups which can be daunting to break in and join. I have a friend who always arrives early and then stands and greets as many people as he can. He pretends in his head that it is his event, and he needs to welcome people and make them feel at ease. It's a nice trick if you have confidence. It does take a bit of practice, but people, especially those flying solo, are often so pleased to see a friendly face, that it can reap high dividends.
- Ditch the sales pitch If you expect to go to a networking event and sell, then you are in the wrong place. It is all about relationship building. If you have a relationship with someone, we have an incentive to help them. Start with recommending a contact or a networking event or web site that might help them, and who knows how the conversation will develop?
- Share your passion. I went to a networking event recently and spoke to someone who sold telecoms. Now we could be in the market for their services, but they came across as bored and lethargic, with no interest in anything or anyone else. Nothing about them inspired me to try and find out more about them and what they might be able to offer Workplace. By contrast, take the gentleman I met whose garage services Mercedes cars. He was so passionate about the people who worked for him. I started to wish I had a Mercedes, or at least think about the people I knew with a Mercedes who might want to find out more about him and his business. What a difference in our perception and the potential business outcomes for the gentlemen involved.
- Don't hijack the conversation nerves or overconfidence can make us talk too much and we forget to listen. Nobody likes someone who holds court and does not listen so listen more than you talk
- Always follow up never go to an event and forget to take note of the people who have attended. If someone interested me, I will do a little more research and make an effort to stay in touch from time to time. Send them an article I think they might find interesting or a book recommendation or congratulations for an award they might have won.
- Be a regular - networking events are potential beginnings, not the destination. Put in the effort, and they can work for your business. Be prepared to invest the time needed to make these events the most successful sales tool available. Choosing a few events and becoming a regular is a great way to be spotted and get connections. Don't just go once to an event and write it off as no good you might have to attend 3 or 4 times before you start to get into good conversations. The more you put in, the more you will get out.
Workplace is a 5-star coworking and serviced office company in Manchester. It is perfectly positioned on Oxford Street, close to Oxford Road Station and only 10 minutes walk from Piccadilly Station. It has easy access with the tram system in Manchester being only a few steps from Albert Square. Full Google Directions and Location