Seven secrets to networking

Seven secrets to networking

Caroline Martell chatted with seven experts in self-employment who’ve built their empires from successful networking. Here’s what they had to say…

1. Luan Wise, expert marketer

Use social media before, during and after an event. Check if the event has a hashtag, see if you can find out who is attending on LinkedIn before you go. Most importantly, don’t forget to follow up! Connect with the people you meet on LinkedIn, follow people on Twitter and continue the conversation. Make yourself visible, let people get to know, like and trust you… and you’ll be in business!

2. Steve Bergson, Director at Prism Digital Communications

Always make the effort to be receptive. It’s quite a trick letting people know what you do while spending three-quarters of the interaction time listening to what they do – and making it not look like a trick. Like all high-wire acts, it gets better with practice. Even when it’s tempting to stay in your comfort zone, it’s always better to make new contacts, exploring different avenues with unexpected perspectives, even if they don’t initially seem very promising. A follow-up contact is not just polite, it establishes an ongoing communication channel that you might not want to use immediately, but just might come in useful at some point in the future. You really do... never know.

3. John Niland, professional speaker and coach

When thinking about networking, it’s wise to think outside of the usual networking events. Some of the best business I’ve done over the years has come from random conversations in a car park, a Jacuzzi and the person sitting next to me on an airplane. On each occasion, there was no indication that morning that I was going to meet that person. Furthermore, if my head had been stuck to a mobile device, none of these conversations would have happened, which means I would have lost an estimated £335K worth of business. Moral of the story: talk to strangers. It pays to be curious as well as to be nice. Polite (and kind) interest is a winning combination.

4. Phil Hodgkinson, Commercial Director at Accelerate Place

It's always worth doing research into who's going to an event and seeing if you can connect beforehand to make the time at the event count more. In fact, some of our members in west London – Howdy Hub – have developed a brilliant app for getting more value out of events. Their platform allows an event's guest list to engage prior to an event and helps attendees set up scheduled conversations at the event. Home - Howdy.

5. Karen Mitchell, transformation programme director

Remember to keep in touch with your network at regular intervals, not just when you need something. Good networks are based on long lasting relationships not just something you dip in and out of when you need something. A quick email, LinkedIn message, phone call or a coffee or dinner, depending on how well you know the person, is all it takes to stay in touch and connected.

6. Victoria McDonnell, marketing manager

If you can, review the attendees list before an event so that you can assess who you would like to meet on the day, allowing you to plan your time effectively and ensure you meet the right people.

7. Jamie Lightfoot, IPSE Business Development Manager, South East England and London region

Take business cards – it’s your calling card and it’s hard for people to remember you the next day without a reminder. Plus it looks professional. Then, the following day log all the business cards you received into your CRM, Google Contacts or Outlook Contacts. Keep a record of everything you spoke about and their interests. Although LinkedIn is acceptable to connect do not add anyone to Facebook – it’s too personal for a first meeting, unless it was discussed in your talk together.