January 8, 2013 9.16 am This story is over 137 months old

Lincoln networker: Is your networking not working?

Notworking: Mike Stokes explains the common mistakes of networkers and shares his top tips to keep in mind to get the most out of networking events.

Whenever you hear business people say that they don’t seem to get much out of networking, it usually means one of two things – either they are not networking properly, or they are not working hard enough at it.

So why does networking not appear to work for some people?

Networking should not be treated as a selling activity

  • It should not be regarded as a “meet the buyer” session
  • Merely selling at other networkers will annoy them
  • It is a two-way information gathering process
  • Starting out by asking questions is the correct strategy
  • It is very much a marketing activity and should be evaluated as such

Events should not be approached flippantly

  • Networking is a serious business activity
  • Planning and preparation are key
  • Punctuality sets the right first impression
  • Business cards, diaries, badges, flyers, pull-up banners etc are important
  • An “elevator pitch” should be prepared and rehearsed well in advance

Working the room ensures that networking is effective

  • Colleagues should be left at the reception desk
  • Questions make the best ice-breakers
  • It is important not to stay with one person too long
  • It is desirable to earn a reputation as a people connector
  • The “elevator pitch” must be delivered clearly and slowly

Following up is essential

  • All promises must be delivered promptly
  • Contact can be maintained in a number of ways
  • Patience and persistence are fundamental
  • Networking should be evaluated as a marketing activity

So, if your networking is NOT working:

  • It must not be treated as a selling activity
  • More advance planning and preparation must be applied
  • Different “room working” techniques should be tried
  • More patient but persistent following-up should be explored

Mike Stokes had a long exporting career and has advised new exporters since 2003. He networked prolifically to establish his own business and then in 2009 he formed his own networking group in Lincoln, The Business Club.