There is an art to most things in life. In my opinion, one of these things is networking. For some of us it can come so naturally and for others it is our biggest nightmare.

I have been networking for more years than I care to remember. I am very lucky that it comes naturally to me to talk to anyone without any fear. I always have something to say!!!

The skill of networking

Is to utilise the time you have in a room full of people.  More than half of them will probably be of no use to your business.

The first thing to do is to gain access to the delegates list. Ideally it is best if you can get this prior to the event. You can then choose your main four or five people you will be looking to connect with at the event.

Once you have this information, the next thing is to be able to pick them out in a full room. I find the best way to do this is ask the people on the registration desk. They can generally remember what people are wearing or they may even know them.

Then it’s over to you to go find them and introduce yourself. Don’t do pushy sales. No one likes it.

Talk about the venue, the weather, the rugby, football……….not what you want from them. That will come later.

Don’t be afraid to walk up to a group of people networking who are in deep discussion. It is perfectly acceptable to stand there until someone greets you.

Don’t rule anyone out. You never know who they know.

Always think about what you will wear

Choose carefully. Try to stand out from the crowd. If you are a lady chose a bright dress, jacket, scarf or shoes.

If you are a gentleman, then perhaps a crazy tie. You will then be easily pointed out if someone is looking for you.

Networking can be fun once you can work the room to your advantage. It can also be exhausting.

What events should I attend?

My advice would be to choose carefully which events you attend.

Find the right event that works for you, for example –

I am not a fan of speed networking myself, but however it can be very useful as it gives you a three minute elevator pitch with many businesses in one place.

Some breakfast events provide a one minute slot for you to promote your business to the room. Make sure you prepare your sixty second pitch prior to the event so that you get your message across to the room clearly and concisely.

Try to attend the same event(s) every month as this will help to build new relationships. Factor at least one event in your diary every month and make sure you book yourself on to it as some events get booked up very quickly.

Don’t forget to take lots of business cards.

Good luck

Blog writer: Joan Smith is the director of Jintro Ltd and has worked closely with businesses of all shapes and sizes for over two decades and is constantly networking.