Networking is an essential part of business. Advertising and marketing will help you, but getting out there and spreading the word of your business and building contacts is just as useful. You never know who you might happen to bump into at the pub, library or fight club, so you need to be able to take advantage of every situation you can.
Be prepared. More prepared than 40,000 Cub Scouts at an International Jamboree. Networking can happen at any time. You could be walking down the street and see a friend who introduces you to a prospective client. If you start fumbling and mumbling about what you do, then you’ve lost his business. If you’re so ill-prepared that you’re not confident enough to even tell the person what you do, then they’ll probably forget all about you after the conversation is over. A good way to get around this is to always have some business cards on you so that you can give them away and ensure that others may give you a second thought in the future. Avoid copying the designs from American Psycho though, as stylish as they are, people may be a little put off.
Part of being always prepared is having a good ‘elevator pitch’. This is essentially a speech that lasts between 30 seconds and 2 minutes where you describe your business and what’s so great about it. A lot of networking events require you to get up and do them, but they’re also obviously useful in the real world too. They need to be simple and concise. There is no room for babble or buzzwords. Stick to your name, your company’s name and exactly what your company does. If you work with social media marketing don’t say:
“We utilisate the increased popularity, amongst all demographics, in online sociality to super-maximaze your businesses’ exposure across all social media islands to ensure high online visibility and unrivalled connectability to to your exactamized target market.”
It takes ages to say and essentially sounds annoying. Be succinct and you’ll be much more effective in getting your point across.
Finally, keep yourself in the loop. What’s the point of perfecting your 30 second speech if you don’t know when any networking events are? Admittedly, you might just want to avoid them. They can sometimes be expensive, dull and incredibly useless, but some are worth the effort. Keep on the lookout for new events. A good way to do this is to embed yourself in the online community. Find people in the same industry as you or businesses who might want your services and find out where they go. You might misjudge a couple of times and sit through such a boring session that you consider drowning yourself in your coffee, but, once you get it right, you’ll be very pleased with the results.
This was a Guest Post for the Employable. Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for Crunch accounting. He also contributes music articles to Spindle Magazine and writes his own blog called Don’t Get Born. Cheers Josh, a good read and some handy networking tips.