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6 key Tips for Effective Networking

People attend networking events to gain something, new connections, sales leads, business referrals or new opportunities to grow their business.

Networking is key for new and growing businesses as it gives you more than just a platform to tell others about your business. It helps you to find potential clients and build a sustainable business while learning from the success of others.

The key to effective networking is listening. If you take the time to understand what other people need and how you can help them, you’ll be more likely to leave with genuine relationships that will benefit you in the future. Talking to a room full of strangers can be difficult, so here are 6 tips to make sure that you get the most out of networking.
Start it before you need it. Even if you think that you hate networking, like most of the population, it is an essential part of business. Many people don’t take to networking naturally so try to get used to the process before you need it, after all, practice makes perfect.

People often reach out for help when they need it and then expect their networks to rally around into action. Maintaining your network before you need them will make their help much more likely.

Plan Ahead. Know your value and what strengths and skills you bring to the table before you start networking. If you know what you want to achieve through networking, you can avoid sounding vague or uninteresting. 

You’ll also be in a better position to steer conversations to suit you and about specific issues affecting you.

Never dismiss anyone as not important. Even if you don’t think they can help you, they may have valuable connections which you’d know of if you took the time to speak with them.

If you’re involved in a group conversation you may only want to network with 1 person but pay attention to everyone so that you don’t miss any relevant information.

Prepare yourself. If you can get it, look at the list of attendees before you get there so that you have an idea of who you’d like to meet. Make sure that you have a way to swap contact details close to hand.

Business cards are a well-established tool of networking and allow the conversation to continue to flow rather than taking down details on your phone.

Stay informal and interesting. One of the biggest mistakes you can make, especially if you’re nervous, is going into sales pitch mode.

Networking is not about selling your product it's about building a genuine rapport with someone else. Keep your introduction brief, informal and interesting giving people the appetite to ask you for more information.

Connect people who can help each other. As you find out about different people you may figure out how a couple of them can help each other – go out of your way to connect these people.
Most people will be more receptive than you think, so never be afraid to introduce yourself. In today's competitive marketplace success often comes down to who you know.
Networking can come in many forms: attending an industry event, a specific networking breakfast, developing relationships with co-workers, directors or even running into and forging a connection with another professional. Start small with friends and family and by attending dedicated events which are designed to help you grow your network. 
Don't miss the opportunity to network with 6,000+ like minded business professionals at the Northern Business Exhibition this March. Find out more about our facilitated networking here.
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