My view is that business is all about meeting new people, and building good business relationships that will hopefully lead to further business as well as referrals to other businesses/individuals to do business with. I have been a keen networker for several years now and actually enjoy going to different events, and meeting different people.
Regardless of what business area you work in, networking will more than likely be the most effective, and the least expensive marketing strategy within your business. It takes very little time, and if the right events are chosen, I can guarantee you will make some good contacts.
I must be honest and say at first I did not enjoy networking. I found it tedious, and the same people attending the same events being very self motivated and just interested in whether they can get a sale or not. However, after the first few events I realised that I was more than likely going to the wrong events and expecting too much from the events.
Now, I go networking with no intention or ambitious objectives of how much business I may make from the event. I will go to relevant events, and give my business card to only those individuals whom I think I will contact in the next few days and hopefully arrange a meeting. At present, I try and attend two to three events on a monthly basis. This could be a curry networking event, a formal dinner or even a large local social gathering, whereby individuals from different sectors are attending.
So what will make your networking experiences more effective? First of all you need to find networking events which include delegates that share your interests, and or are potential people to do business with. You then need to make sure that you dress appropriately and professionally, and then remember you are not at the event to sell your services, but to promote yourself. The worst networker is someone who tries too hard to sell their services or someone who is very egoistic and feels they are the best at what they do and actively promotes this image.
So coming back to the question of this article, does networking work? The answer is yes networking does work, so long as you actually remain committed to being a good networker. You may hit it off with a client or possible introducer at your first event, or it may happen at the second or third time you attend a particular event. For me, whilst networking does take up some time, I do not mind because I have made some good acquaintances that have become friends such as the editor of this paper, some very good clients that required my expertise in managing their financial affairs, and some very good introducer’s whom I send work and they reciprocate by sending me work.
My advice is give networking a try, you never know how effective it may be till you try it.