If the thought of standing in a big room full of people handing out business cards to one another feels a bit archaic – think again. Networking is as relevant today as it ever was.
Sure, we have LinkedIn, Twitter and a multitude of other social networking services in which to throw ourselves when looking for potential customers and valuable partnerships, but nothing quite beats meeting people face-to-face.
For today’s blog, we decided to quiz Slinky MD, Scott, on what he thinks about traditional networking and how he makes the most of the opportunities it offers.
1. Do you still engage in traditional networking events and, if so, why?
Traditional networking means getting suited and booted, jumping into your car or onto some form of public transport and spending several hours out of the office.
Is it really worth all that?
Scott: “Yes! The forces of serendipity are important to stretch your client reach, alongside your usual targeted networking objectives. You never know who you might bump into or what possible collaborative opportunities may arise!”
2. What’s your opening gambit when you meet someone new at a networking event?
Networking is a bit like business dating, and that means you’ll have to approach that all-important opening line with caution.
How do you avoid making a fool of yourself or squandering the opportunity?
Scott: “I think it’s good to break the ice by asking their thoughts on the event or presentations at the network event. That way, you can find common ground, which then leads on to each party introducing themselves and what they could possibly offer each other.”
3. What annoys you the most about networking events?
Let’s be honest – just like social media, traditional networking throws up its fair share of frustrating encounters!
Scott: “When people simply try to get work from each other (only) rather than looking to collaborate on the wider picture and perhaps opening up each other’s client base or further networks.”
4. Should people expect to get new business from networking events or simply make connections?
There’s a bit of a misnomer (or perhaps outright expectation) that networking will guarantee you new business. Is that true?
Scott: “It’s very unlikely you’ll get actual business from a single encounter or event. It’s all about planting seeds, and then nurturing (and watering!) those seeds over time.”
5. What’s your single best tip for people who want to get into traditional networking?
Networking events typically only offer a few hours of time during which you can interact directly with other people. With that in mind, how do you approach this form of business communication if you haven’t done it before?
Scott: “I think business cards still make an impact, and be sure to follow/log/connect with your encounter immediately after the event and then nurture that professional relationship.”
Has Scott convinced you to delve into the world of traditional networking? If so, keep his advice in this post at the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be sure to get the most value from the day.