NOW that you know why networking is so important, and have an idea of the rules of the game, what’s the next step? How can you make meaningful connections with people to grow your business? Tradelane Managing Director Betsy Ings explains.

Pay it forward

By simply talking to people, you connect with not only the person you are engaging with, but also his or her entire business network of potential business referrals. Similarly, aim to help others by creating valuable referrals for them.

If you pair people up, chances are that they will return the favour. One solid contact is better than 100 business cards – so, instead of meeting the entire crowd at a networking event, aim for at least one meaningful connection where you offer advice or a referral. And don’t make empty promises but deliver on what you said following the event – ideally within the 72-hour magic window period following a meeting.

Interestingly 80% of sales are made on the 5th to the 12th contact, so remember to follow up with a potential business connection after your networking event. 48% of professionals do not follow up with a prospect – don’t miss out on potential valuable business partnerships.

Do your homework

There is nothing more frustrating than using valuable work time by attending an event and not actually connecting with anyone. Set your goals, decide which type of people you want to meet and make sure you attend the events most suited for your business.

Ways of preventing time wasted are to research the event attendees, getting to an event early and practicing what you want to say to the person you want to meet at the event. Make a mental note of three to five persons who you want to speak to. Go in with a purpose by knowing what you want to get out of the event.

It is also important to know who is hosting an event and who the sponsors are – this could not only be a good potential talking point, but also offer a new business connection to you. Experiment with different types of networking events – to find the best fit for your business.

Places to network:

• Business Forums & Groups
• Networking Organisations
• Speed Networking
• Professional Conferences and Seminars
• Business Panels
• Virtual Events
• Tradeshow marketing & networking
• Entrepreneur Associations
• Business Chambers

This is the last of a two-part blog dealing with the ins and outs of Networking.