Sara Charlesworth, Berkshire Growth Hub Business Adviser
Whether you’re an old hand at networking, or just dipping your toe in the water, you’ll want a good return on investment from your endeavours.
You might invest £200 each month on it, you might attend open, free groups, or a mix of the two. In any event (pardon the pun), your time is valuable. You will want to make it count. So what does a good return on investment look like? That will depend on what you’re looking for.
Here are some of the ‘returns’ you can expect. Which of these are important for you?
Find partners for reciprocal marketing
If you meet someone who is good at marketing, and has the same target audience as you, you could:
- write a guest blog for their website
- provide a paragraph and photo for their e-newsletter
- arrange a joint event
Receive valuable support on social media
Ask those you meet to join you in mutual support on any social platform.
Find new customers in the room.
Receive introductions to potential customers connected or related to those in the room (Did you know the accountant next to you is married to exactly the contact you need?)
- Get a boost to your wellbeing and motivation.
- Find a new supplier, saving you money or improving the quality of what you offer.
- Learn something valuable you didn’t know.
Choosing your group
It’s easy to filter groups to fit with your lifestyle. Breakfast meetings give you the day free but can cause school run headaches. Lunchtime get-togethers can be costly but are enjoyable for some, and eating together is a powerful way of building camaraderie.
Mid-morning and evening groups exist, and don’t forget there’s no need need to stick to your geographic area if it’s sustainable for you to travel. You’ll want to be comfortable with the format of the group. Some ask each person what referrals they’ve made that week, which encourages great results. Others have a speaking opportunity for members, which can build confidence, enable pitch practice and gain referrals.
The only way to find out which group suits you is to visit once or twice. All groups welcome this. If you would like a list of Berkshire groups, or an introduction to the group leader, contact @BerkshireGrowthHub.
Top 3 Networking Tips
1. Be kind. Ask open questions and show genuine interest in others.
2. Prepare a short explanation of what you do and who your ideal client is.
3. Follow up well.
There is still plenty more you can to achieve a good return on investment, here are some ideas:
- Link on social media, with everyone who was in the room. Remember to ask politely and send a personal, genuine note.
- Post straight away about the networking event, tagging attendees and thanking the organizer. If you’ve forgotten to take a photo, use a photo of the location or venue.
- Support your new contacts’ posts on social media. Comment on them or share with your own comments. If that’s not genuinely appropriate for your following, like the post to show support.
- Email those you met. Not a lengthy or generic email. Invest time in making it personal to them, it is well worth it.
- Ask for a 1:1 meeting so you can find out more and discuss whether there’s a way you could work together for mutual benefit.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of business networking, or even to practice your ‘pitch’ in confidence, book an adviser appointment.