This week at the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool, Irish Business Enterprise ran another very successful Members meeting. Constantly people ask me the secret to our success as everyone at that lunch left with referrals. For me it’s all about Professional Networking.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve used Networking as a very important part of my work. Properly done, it’s a very effective tool. However, bad Networking can be very costly. Sadly, most Networking is not thought through.
Some think that having large numbers in the room and staying long hours works. It does not. The more in the room and the longer the event simply means the more hours you have wasted. Time is money!
About 12 years ago, I was blessed to be introduced to the Professional Speakers Association. I was a member for 8years, becoming the first Female President of the NorthWest.
There I met a wonderful Chartered Accountant, who, on hitting a certain birthday, decided to totally change career paths. Using the Professional Speaking he started to teach Professional Networking. I was one of his first pupils. Once I’d completed the Training Course, it was announced that “I had been Kintished”! I am, of course, talking about the brilliant Will Kintish.
To this day I remember all your tips and they have stood the test of time Will. Thank you.
Professional Networking is not about turning up at regular events with the hope of finding someone useful. Allowing for your travel there and back, the average Networking event is 4 hrs. If you show up unprepared then the chances are you will waste 4 hrs of your precious time. If you have nothing better to do then fine. But most successful businesses are busy people where time is a luxury.
So, what are the tips for Professional Networking?
Firstly, you must know your audience. Who are ideal clients for you?
Next you need to research the event BEFORE you attend. Just because it’s free should not encourage you to go. Think of the valuable time you will waste if it’s the wrong clientele for you!
Research the meeting, ideally getting a list of the companies attending. This can be done within the GDPR. If you need help check out another IBE Member https://johnjelly.co.uk/product-category/in-person-training/
Does the list include anyone you want to work with? Does it even include your sector? If not, then why would you go????
NEVER try to sell at a Networking event. The room is full of salespeople and they do NOT buy! To use your time well just listen. Never worry about the fact that no one knows who you are. The World and his Wife knowing you is irrelevant if they are not potential customers for you! Sad perhaps but true!
People love someone to hear them. Let them talk, take in all the info you can so, later, you can decide who may be useful for you to follow up. That way you get to choose who to meet again.
For me, the very best practice of Professional Networking to guarantee a successful outcome for all is as follows: –
I hand pick a group of our clients who are specialists in various aspects of the same sector. Then helping another of our Members, I organise a great lunch in very pleasant surrounds for us all to meet up. By choice, the lunch is just 1.5hrs as all attending are very busy people. They like to get to the point, make a commitment and move on.
A lot of time and effort goes into my research to guarantee a fruitful result. This week our theme was Property and choose the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool. Keeping the numbers low is the key to a very successful outcome. I choose just 14 Businesspeople, all of whom I knew would find new relationships. I also knew I was guaranteed top service at the Hilton. Danielle took care of every need to make our guests at home. Thank you, Danielle.
So, successful Networking is not hit and miss. It’s about professional preparation and planning. I always research my clients, chat with them, understand their needs, etc. I use the venues of our own IBE Members so we keep business within the “family”. We take care of each other. That’s the real key to growing a successful business over time.
If you would like to chat please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out https://irishbusinessenterprise.com/