Networking. What is it? Well, like I said last week it is perhaps the easiest form of advertising and promoting yourself and your business.

In laymans terms, it is a bunch of likeminded business folk getting together in a big room, usually with tea, coffee and biccies on tap, and talking about themselves and business opportunities. In business terms, it is the key to making connections, growing your business, reputation and creating widespread awareness of your abilities.

When I was invited to my first networking event I found that I regressed back to the thirteen year old that would freeze at the mere thought of speaking in front of classmates about a well rehearsed topic let alone speaking to complete strangers about what I do. Fearing public humiliation, I mentally prepared myself for a Spanish inquisition type affair…true, there are events that require you to answer rapidly fired questions, but there are many formats that constitute a good old network, and no matter which you attend you will find that there are more than a few people who can 100% empathise with first, second and even third time nerves.

Probably one of the most common types of networking is F2F, or Face to Face. Whether this phrase was coined by Aberdeen Business Community or not, it is certainly one that has stuck and become a staple businessperson’s acronym.

So what should you expect from your first networking event and following events? Well first of all, expect to be recognised as a new face and to have people come up to you and want to talk about what you do. This is great because ironically, the more you go, the more you seem likely to talk to people you know. Remember, networking is business and therefore a non-social social event… if that makes sense.

Expect to hand out and be given lots of business cards but don’t necessarily expect to leave with ten done deals, five prospective jobs and three follow up meetings…the first few times you go it is likely to be only the latter you will leave with. But this is fine, it is all part of the ‘advertising yourself’ journey and where you learn the fundamental steps, or dos and don’ts, of networking.

It seems only fair now that having started by painting a terrifying glossophobia-esque picture I give you some hints and tips to start you off on the right foot. Here are my top ten networking noteworthies and never dos.

  1. Don’t only talk to people you know or those you have done business with before

  2. Do take advantage of the introducers and meet at least one new person each time

  3. Don’t expect the other person to do all the talking

  4. Do have a general ‘spiel’ prepared

  5. Don’t think you will be businessperson of the year over night

  6. Do follow up on leads and even just meeting new people

  7. Don’t turn up unprepared

  8. Do bring business cards

  9. Don’t try and sell, sell, sell

  10. Do be genuine, honest and yourself

And finally one for good luck, Do wear comfy shoes. So go forth and have a good time, this is your informal chance to shout about what you can do and make some useful new friends, acquaintances, business partners and clients – see, what could be easier!

Next week, to tie in with the networking theme, we shall look at where you rank amongst your competitors, who is watching you…this one is going to be full of useful tips to boost your profile so do join us same time, same place.

How to work networking

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