Networking doesn’t come easy to most people, certainly not to me.  Which is strange because I love meeting new people, I love chatting and I love finding out about businesses.  But when you have a business card thrust in your face and have to listen to sales pitch after sales pitch it can get very tedious.

Having been networking for about 3 years, I actually now look forward to the regular meet ups I go to and will seek out new opportunities to widen my network, something I never would have done in the past.  I’ve made real connections, friends and most importantly found supporters of my business.

It does take practise and persistence though and what I’ve learnt is that not every group will suit you. It may take a few repeat visits and some exploring to find the environment and people that fits best with you and your business.

So I’ve asked Athena Regional Director Kate Cherry, to share her top tips to help you get the most from networking.

  1. Be curious – When you are first meeting a fellow networker it pays to be curious about their business. If you understand what it is they are looking for you will be able to serve them in the right way and if you can’t you might know someone who can.
  2. Mindset – When attending networking events approach them with the mindset ‘how can I serve others’. Look to share your experiences, contacts and networking know how. Be a connector and on the look out for opportunities to serve others.
  3. Schedule 1-1’s – These are really powerful. Sometimes the most beautiful collaborations have come from two businesses’ that you would have never put together.

Be open to 1-1’s with a broad spectrum of different types of businesses, they might not have business for you in the first instance but they may someone who could be or have contacts that will be.

  1. Be prepared – Know which industries and professions you are looking to connect with before attending events. Your time is valuable so being prepared with topics to discuss can help save time and keep you focused on your outcomes.
  2. Smile – Can you remember the last time you choose someone to do business with because of his or her grumpy demeanour?
  3. Dress to your profession – Make an impression by the way you dress. For example, if you work in the corporate environment, people will expect you to look smart.
  4. Get creative – At Athena meetings you have 60 seconds (a Monthly Minute) to stand up and let the room know about your product or service. And a sure fire way to be remembered is by being creative with your pitch, we have seen many fabulous pitches over the years including the use of song, props and poems to name a few.
  5. Listen – People love to be heard and by showing your listening skills you will leave a memorable impression. Be mindful of your time though and look to work the room, if you are chatting for more than 10 minutes kindly excuse yourself, thank them for the conversation and say that in this limited time you’d like to connect with other delegates and to let them know you’ll follow up, only if you mean it though.
  6. Always follow up! – One of the most important aspects of networking. It shows integrity and that you are true to your word. Untold business goes astray because of an email or a call that was never made.
  7. Make it personal – A good follow up indicates to the recipient that you were really listening to them and interested in their business. In your follow up include a sentence about something they discussed in your conversation. It could be something they mentioned about their business that was unique, or it may have been about something they were doing at the weekend, whichever it is, it shows you were listening.

Bonus Tip – Be your fabulous self and have fun. Networking is about creating connections and building relationships, people buy into you before your product or service.

A little bit more about Kate…..

After a 15-year career in the financial sector, Athena Regional Director Kate Cherry has run networking groups in Hertfordshire and networked in Herts, Beds, Bucks and London for a number of years after shifting her focus from corporate life to her own business success and her family. Kate enjoys being a connector and introducer for those looking for each other’s services, having the ability to easily identify potential collaborations between her contacts, and building networking confidence in others.

Kate’s brand new group in Wyboston launches Tuesday 20th February – we will definitely be there! Places are still available if you use the link below:-

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