Networking is an organic on-going process, which builds relationships over time so its essential that you look for opportunities outside the networking room to expand your network base. A successful networker will have a mix of contacts in their black book within a range of industries and sporting various job titles. They will be decision makers, industry experts, gatekeepers and much more.
It is essential to maximise all networking opportunities and think outside the box because networking does not only take place at a specific event. The golden rule is to be ready to network any time. You never know when you might meet someone new or how your new connections will enhance your existing networking base. Try to be open to opportunities because they can literally emerge anywhere. Here are a few examples.
Between meetings you can use co-working or day renting offices. These flexible offices are useful for hot-desking and booking meeting rooms where you will find opportunities to meet other like-minded professionals. Like you, they are searching for quiet locations to work for a few hours. Some of these co-working locations will offer membership and will usually have their own networking evenings.
Don’t forget that networking can take place during social activities and does not always have to be business-2-business. Think about this when you next attend a private gallery opening or visit the theatre. Be mindful who is standing or sitting next to you and make an effort to start a conversation. That person might be a valuable gatekeeper who could open doors for you. Conversations you have in this kind of setting are likely to be less formal, but not necessarily any less fruitful than delivering a structured pitch at a networking event.
Social engagements such as private dining functions, cocktail parties and drinks receptions are usually by invitation-only and tend to attract a niche audience. In return the benefits are quality interactions. Take full advantage of these opportunities and think “quality over quantity”.
Whether you are an employee, business owner or run an SME (small or medium enterprise) in your professional life, you can invest in CPD (continuous personal development). Training courses, seminars, conferences and expos provide excellent networking opportunities so always try to arrive 30 minutes before registration to give you more time to network.
When you leave home in the mornings, how many times do you recognise familiar faces on your routine travels into the office? Tomorrow take the initiative, say “hello” and introduce yourself? You never know, that person could be your next client.
Our professional lives often require business travel. Think about the last time you had an overnight stay at a hotel. Were you mindful of networking opportunities with the other business professionals sitting or standing next to you in the hotel lobby, restaurant, bar or reception area?
Without realising it we are surrounded by daily networking opportunities. Typically when we are in the waiting room of the doctors surgery, waiting outside the school gates to pick the children after school, or even standing in the supermarket queue. Make good use of all these opportunities.
By being proactive and keeping an open mind you can expand your network by becoming more mindful of networking opportunities outside the networking room. Don’t forget when you make your efforts to make new connections, always remember to follow them up. This way you will build strong relationships.
We all know how easy it is to forget to follow up in our busy business lives, so here is a tip; make a note in your smart phone of the date you met a new connection and a reminder alarm to follow up.
Lastly remember to always carry those extra business cards at all times, because networking can take place just about anywhere.
Bella Rareworld, Managing Director of BellaNetworking Events, provides strategic networking solutions by managing every stage of a company’s networking life cycle to fit their marketing strategy. Go to www.bellanetworking.com, email her at email@example.com or call 0845 269 8036. Bella Rareworld has over 70 testimonials on Linkedin onhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/rareworld For BellaNetworking Training dates: http://bellatrainingdates.eventbrite.com/ You can also follow her on twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/BellaNetworking