Events are one of the best networking platforms to develop business relations and generate leads for business development. It is an equally potent tool for a start-up or an established business. In events of a relevant genre, you will find people who have interests akin to you – entrepreneurs, businessmen and start-up founders who can learn something new from each other about the latest happenings in the business world.
Business networking is especially helpful when you are taking baby steps and are not that well known in the relevant ecosystem. Hence, visiting networking events and meeting hundreds of peers with diverse learnings and success rates is the best way to get the word out in the industry about you and your business idea. Also, these are the people who will listen to you and provide you with genuine feedback about your idea, product or business.
You can find a co-founder, your first employee or a first customer. So approaching business networking through events that boast of an audience with the right credentials can go a long way in getting the best out of your investment in time and resources.
Usually, small networking events commence with an introduction of its members present. So, there are two points to take note of. First, listen to introductions carefully, so that once you meet them for networking, you can strike the right conversation and hence the right chord. Second, be precise and concise in your introductions, just like a short sales pitch; if someone sees possible synergies and areas of collaboration, he will definitely respond positively to you.
The most important thing to keep in mind when attending such networking events is the quality of interaction. Don’t strive for quantity by trying to meet the maximum possible audience and distributing your visiting cards at random. This way you are substantially reducing the chances recall. Instead, meet few people and try to have a healthy, interesting conversation with them so that they remember you in case a business collaboration opportunity arises. People don’t like to listen to boring talks. Hence, you need to evoke interest by talking about instances or stories that will aid a recall of you and not your competitor!
Business networking does not stop here and needs to be converted into long and enduring relationships. It is all about leveraging the 10-15 minutes’ window that the event opened up for you, and following this up with tactical online and offline connections especially over social media platforms like Linkedin or Twitter which can track changes in professional growth and career graph. Choice of social media is also important. Business connections on Facebook and Instagram, are not advised but an email with a hard hitting update about you can help. Also, offline connect through follow-up meetings can be game-changing in terms of collaborations.
Obviously, there will be challenges, but not trying it is not an option. Take note of every person you meet at a networking event and the conversations about his business and future plans. This will help you in keeping track of future collaboration opportunities. My personal experience with networking events has been very exciting & fruitful. I have gained knowledge as well as business development. Once, I met a person in a small networking event and kept in a constant touch with him. Eventually, the business came after almost 6-months after the other person gained confidence in me. Our successful business relationship spans over 3-years now, transcending professional relationship into enduring friendship.
In case of networking, you will initially feel that you are just hitting in the dark, but as you will attend more and more events and meet more people, you will also start growing your network. Business will eventually come; Also, even a single piece of information/feedback /advice from the senior people in the industry will be invaluable for you.
Many of the business networking events are marked by some knowledge sharing sessions with industry experts. You can learn a lot from their life and times, and their mistakes along with gaining an excellent insight into the latest industry trends so as to stay ahead in the game.