Networking PicIt’s that time of year when you could be out every single night if you wanted to be… pre-Christmas gatherings, Christmas parties, end of year celebrations, awards nights, networking events, meetings, the list is endless!

Each November/December seems to get busier with even more options on offer every year, so it’s time to be selective, put on your party dress or business outfit and join in with the festivities. It’s the perfect time to network! Time to catch up with friends, business associates and colleagues on a social basis, tell each other how life is tracking and share new thoughts and ideas. It’s an ideal time to meet new people, develop relationships (new and ‘old’) and look at possible areas to collaborate.

Some people love to network, others would rather walk on hot coals than go into a room where they potentially may not know anyone, but it’s worth working on overcoming this fear as networking is an essential part of business growth and development.

So here are my top 5 tips to assist with networking, so that you do not come across as a hard-core sales person but portray yourself in a professional and friendly manner:

  • Prepare your elevator pitch – 30 secs to 2 min introduction to you.

Introduce yourself by stating your name, what you do and try and finish with something that will make the contact memorable, something that people will remember you by.

  • If attending a networking event; make sure you introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Don’t stand talking to the same friends the whole time or even worse, hide in the corner alone. People are there to network so make sure you say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself to someone new. Take a deep breath and take the plunge!
  • If you do see someone standing alone invite them to join your group and ask them to introduce themselves so that you can get to know each other. Be welcoming and friendly, make newcomers feel at ease.
  • Keep in touch. The purpose of attending networking events is to meet new people, develop new relationships and look for new opportunities – often on both a business and personal level. If you do obtain business cards or contact details, make sure you keep in touch. No need to bombard them, but drop them an email and send through something they may be interested in or ask how you can assist. You’ve got nothing to lose but lots to gain.

5)      Ensure you do carry business cards. Personally, I don’t think you should hand them to everyone you meet and bombard people with a hard sell, but what if you do meet someone that you may be able to work with, collaborate with or assist in an area of need? Make sure you do have a business card so that you can present your contact details if the situation arises.

So don’t be scared, just be prepared. Once you take the initiative and say ‘hi’ to a couple of people, you’ll start to feel more at ease. You don’t need to love networking but it is important to put yourself ‘out there’ if you are in business, so that you can embrace any opportunities that may come your way. You’ll meet new people in the process and hopefully make great new friends or associates on both a business and personal level.

‘Tis the season to network…. have to go!