A Guide To Successful Networking

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Networking can be a goldmine of opportunity. But if you don’t have the tools to access the treasure, then you can’t reap the rewards.We investigates the best ways to get connected

For many of us, the idea of being thrust into a room full of strangers can be pretty daunting – enough, even, to turn us into quivering wrecks. But unfortunately, standing by the buffet cart fidgeting with your mobile phone is not going to magically create new leads. For others, it’s not so much an intimidating process as a mysterious one. You’ve circled the room, you’ve handed out business cards left, right and centre and you’ve pitched your service a hundred times, but still no new ventures have come to light. Or perhaps you are a natural networker, but are you sure you’re maximising every opportunity? The Business Moment has hunted down some networking pro’s to find out exactly what we should be doing…


Maximising Potential

JASON YEARWOOD is the Regional Director of Business for Breakfast, a networking group that focuses on referrals covering Peterborough and, Grantham, Melton Mowbray and most recently Stamford. Jason discusses the importance of preparation and the benefit of thinking about others…

Most people approach (or think they should approach) networking like a lion stalking a herd of gazelles: How many sales or leads can I create in the next two hours? The problem with this is that nearly everyone else is also in the same frame of mind.

Therefore take a fresh approach and use the time more constructively. Here are some effective networking questions you can ask which will lead to greater success, both long and short term:

1.Who is your target market? Find out who the other person is ideally looking to sell to. You can then work out if you know anyone who might benefit from their product or service. If they serve the same sector or customer, with the same income bracket as you do, there is always the possibility of you referring clients to each other in the future.
2.Are you interested in joint ventures? Even if you cannot see any reason why you could form a joint venture with the person you are chatting to, you may well know someone who could. This sort
of help with no strings attached is so surprising and unexpected that you will almost certainly be asked for your card.
3.Would you like to swap referrals? Another hugely unexpected question, and one that creates a total win-win situation for both sides. I refer someone I know to you, and you do the same for me. Even if a straight swap is not possible at the time, this is something that can always be used in the future (“Hello – remember you kindly referred a new customer to me 6 months ago. Well I haven’t forgotten and I’ve got one for you now.”) Out-of-the-box questions such as these will enhance your networking experience 100%, and actually make it more fun. You are sure to form some good alliances and end up having a far more sociable time in general at these events.

Obviously every time you go networking, you don’t need to invest the same amount of preparation. However, you do need to do some preparation. Don’t worry – this doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. The more you do this, the better you get, and the less you have to prepare. If you feel your pitch could be better crafted, follow this simple process and watch the results: Firstly put yourself in the shoes of your prospective clients. What problem does your product or service solve? There may be multiple answers to this question, so think about this issue over a few days.

If you feel stuck it may be a good idea to ask friends and colleagues. People who are less close to your business may come up with more objective answers. Next, list all the benefits that your product or service provides. Be aware that benefits are not the same thing as features. For example, a feature of your vending machines could be that you have a lot of branded products. So what – thinks your prospective customer. Reframe this feature as a benefit: the famous brands that fill your vending machines will result in more sales.

Now write out your pitch, making sure you only include three key pieces of information. Don’t overload the audience with too many facts and figures. Finally, test out your pitch on someone you know – someone who is honest and is not going to say oh that’s good just to please you. You are looking for constructive criticism rather than blind moral support. Now go out there and practice, practice, practice!

Contact Jason:

0844 576 3280


A Guide To Successful Networking 1 2 3

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