Meeting new contacts shouldn’t be frightening

We’ve got some great networking tips for you to use at Sheffex… or any other time for that matter.

First and foremost, networking is about building relationships. From the first time that you speak to somebody, its the start of a journey of learning trust, and developing connections with the individual.

People do business with people not companies, and even though it’s tempting to try and shortcut the relationship we need to forget about short-term rewards in favour of the long-term benefits.

Here are our top six tips for easier networking

1. Know who to expect

A couple of days before the event have a look at the event website to find out who is going to be there. Put together a list with the top five people that you want to bump into and text it to yourself so you can refer to it discreetly.

2. Arrive prepared

Unless your are an especially memorable person you’re going to need business cards, lots of them. The way that we communicate has changed so the most important things to have on it are your email address and mobile phone number. Try not to overload your card with information but nobody is ever going to look at the card for, that means Twitter, Facebook and the number for the fax machine that’s been gathering dust for the last five years.

3. Be early

If you get nervous or just hate the idea of networking, arrive early to make it easy to start chatting to people before things really get going and lots more people arrive. That way you can chat about the weather, many people are expected, or if they come here often without feeling too embarrassed and ring if you’re interrupting somebody else’s conversation.

4. Make it easy for them

Wear a badge. No, really, we mean it, wear a badge. A lot of events will provide you with a name badge which makes it easy to avoid those “what do you do” moments, and help you to avoid the people you’ve been warned about! Just in case there aren’t any badges available take along one of those clear plastic badge holders that’s cluttering up your desk drawer from other events – your business card will fit perfectly to create your own name badge.

5. Ask them for a card

When you receive somebody’s business card, quickly jot a couple of words on the back to remind yourself of the date and why you were talking to them. The last thing you need is a stack of business cards and no idea why you’ve got any of them.

6. Follow-up the next day

Don’t be afraid to drop a one line email to everyone you meet, even if it’s just to offer a catch-up over coffee someday soon. Few people will be rude enough to ignore you so the door is stay open until you get back in touch.