Top tips for successful networking
We recently became members of the pro-manchester business development group. It’s a great opportunity for us to expand our business network further across the region. Networking is incredibly valuable for us, as it is for many businesses. And although we may be restricted to how much we get out and network over the next few weeks and maybe months; in this week’s blog we look at the reasons why it’s important and share top tips for successful networking.
Why networking is important?
Nothing quite beats a face-to-face discussion in business. Email, social media, WhatsApp; they are all great communication tools. But taking the time to meet people in person helps forge stronger, more memorable experiences. For businesses, networking can open the doors to opportunity. That can be harnessing knowledge, making new contacts and generating new business. It’s a two-way process, like any conversation is, and one that can reap rewards for both parties. The important thing is to take time to fit networking into your agenda.
Our tips for successful networking
It’s all very well telling you to get out there and network, but how do you do it successfully? Have you once tried and then given up? Do you freeze over at the prospect of walking into a room full of unknown faces and striking up conversation? Or, perhaps you enjoy networking but would like to learn how to get more from a session? Read our tips on how to network successfully…
Have a plan
Understanding why you want to network, which events you should go to and what you want to achieve are important. In this instance, research forthcoming events and consider the following:
- Your workload – the networking is important but do it at a time that doesn’t put you under too much pressure. The day job always comes first.
- Are you fresh and focussed first thing in the morning? In which case, consider a breakfast event over an evening one.
- What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to learn more about businesses in your region and get some commercial awareness? Are you looking to build your contacts and explore new business opportunities for your firm? Or do you want to network with industry peers to make friends, share experiences and discuss career matters?
We would advise against just turning up and making a go of it. Although the natural ‘you’ is authentic, a little bit of preparation will stand you in good stead for a successful networking session. This includes,
- Make sure to take business cards with you. They are invaluable at these events.
- Know what you are going to say when you introduce yourself. Practice a short, brief bio or ‘pitch’ about yourself and what you do. Keep it realistic so you can deliver it confidently.
- If it’s the first time you have attempted networking, or you are a little nervous – set yourself a challenge before you start. It could be that you aim to collect a certain number of business cards. Or maybe you will speak with a target number of people in the room.
When you’re in the room
It’s important to come across as authentic and someone who people will want to do business with. Remember the following tips for a successful networking session:
- First impressions really do count. Act professional, consider your dress, your stature and handshake. If there’s alcohol available, try to not drink too much and keep the football talk or other gossip down to a minimum.
- Listen to those you talk with. If you take the time to listen, you come across as genuine and interested. While listening, consider how you may be able to help them in return. Maybe you can offer some advice or links to another contact.
- When networking, the giving is important as the taking. Likewise, the listening is as important as the talking.
Do your admin
Once it’s all over, don’t leave those business cards in your pocket or handbag. As soon as you can over the next few days, spend some time organising your contacts and reaching out to them.
- Make a list or spreadsheet and a brief note about each one. What you discussed, any points of interest and actions you agreed to follow up on.
- Connect with your new contacts on LinkedIn.
- Send your contacts an email or InMail to say thank you. Include any information that will either be of interest to them or that you had agreed to share with them after the event.
If you’re new to networking, start with small events. Once you’ve mastered the art of it, you will feel confident to tackle larger events across more industries. Remember to know your goals, believe in your professional self and build those personal relations to make you an even better lawyer or businessperson.
We’re very lucky to have lots of excellent networking opportunities across the Manchester region. From pro-manchester to groups like the MYP (Manchester Young Professionals) and MTSG (Manchester Trainee Solicitors Group), there really are lots of events for legal professionals to get involved in. As recruiters, we enjoy networking and appreciate the value of a good face-to-face chat. If you do too, connect with us on LinkedIn to find out more about the events we’ll be attending in the (hopefully) near future.