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You are here: News » Archived News » Being successful at business networking

Being successful at business networking

The Business Network Manchester

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The Business Network was launched in the UK in 1993 – and we still have members participating today who joined in that year. I have been looking at some of our long-standing members over the past few months to try and understand more clearly what they do to make The Business Network work for them. It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that there are similarities in how they use our events and how they interact with fellow members and guests. Here are some of insights gained from my albeit unscientific research.

Attend regularly
Networking is an ongoing process, not an activity that you take part in occasionally. Attending regularly allows you to nurture your relationships over time. Looking at the attendance record of some of our long-standing members, they are present at almost all of our monthly events. They clearly have our event dates in their diaries and set the time aside each month. Consistency appears to be important in building a strong and reliable network.

Perfect your elevator pitch
Work on honing a brief and compelling summary of who you are, what you do, and the solutions and services you provide to others. Listening to some of the presentations of our long-standing members it is clear that practice over the years has made them comfortable with their introductions. It was also interesting to see how stories were also included by many of them. Actual anecdotes explaining how they had helped a client tended to get nods of approval from around the table – and it was also interesting to see that some of these anecdotes were altered depending on the audience.

Be ready to help others
Always look for ways to offer help to others within your network. Again, it came as no surprise that our long-standing members were always happy to make relevant introductions for fellow members, as well as share knowledge and advice. Establishing a reciprocal relationship is essential in successful networking.

Build genuine relationships
It was interesting listening to our long-standing members when having their pre-lunch conversations. Questions to fellow members and guests often extended to themes beyond professional topics, with family, hobbies and interests frequently being discussed. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards; it is about showing a genuine interest in others and building authentic connections – so take time to understand people and find common ground.

Listen
Following on from the previous insight, our long-standing members demonstrated that it is not enough to simply ask questions of others, you also need to actively listen and focus on what others are saying during conversations. This not only shows respect but also provides you with valuable information about the interests and motivations of your networking contacts.

Follow Up
I will always remember one of our long-standing members Will Kintish saying that ‘you must always follow up’. On chatting to them it is apparent that our long-standing members always do this, either with a personalised email or telephone call. Use this communication to simply express your appreciation for the conversation, remind them of your discussion, and where relevant, book further one-to-one meetings over coffee to help establish the relationship more fully.

The strength of a diverse network
This insight came not from the long-standing members directly, but from me appreciating that by having a broad range of business categories, with many different areas of expertise represented, a network then offers many more unexpected opportunities and brings a fresh perspective. Owing to the long-standing nature of our groups in Manchester, London and Exeter, membership is varied and has probably contributed to the number of loyal members we have.

Effective business networking is a valuable tool in growing your business
Get it right and you can build relationships based on trust and mutual benefit.

So, I hope you find these insights useful in enhancing your networking skills and establishing that all-important network of valuable contact. It will help you find new clients, open up collaborative opportunities, and keep you up to date with the latest business trends. Find out more about joining the regular BUSINESS NETWORK MANCHESTER networking lunch events.

Contact Helen on:
helen@business-network.co.uk
0161 823 1384 / 07854 891 767
business-network-manchester.co.uk

Images courtesy of Senem Peace.

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