Here, Jon Bannister, managing director of Bespoke Support Network, considers how company founders and entrepreneurs can make the most of business networking events.
If you’ve ever wondered about going to a business networking event, you’ll know that they’re not very hard to find. One Google search will produce multiple events in just one area. The question is, what are the best ones to go to and is it worth it?
Events can range from business breakfasts to after work happy hours at bars and restaurants. However, it is important that all businesses know the many benefits of a networking event.
Being a new business can be especially difficult, so going along to networking events is a good way of building connections and securing new business.
Bespoke Support Network hosted a networking event for the first time last week, however, when inviting people along we found that people were very reluctant to go, we began asking why and did some research along the way.
Our findings were that a vast number of business owners don’t want to go to business networking events because:
- The fees aren’t worth it
- They don’t like public speaking
- There’s always too many people that do the same thing
- They find it awkward
- It feels like everyone is pushing their own businesses rather than actually forming relationships
Networking works far better if you avoid connecting with a self-benefitting motive in mind and start focussing on developing genuine connections.
Once you have that connection with someone, the business will follow and tends to be a longer lasting relationship that benefits both you and your career.
Networking is particularly important and has massive benefits when you develop relationships with the right people for your business.
As per the research carried out by Bespoke Support Network, many events require a fee to attend and some even ask for a short speech about your business when you arrive.
For any business owner networking is important, however, sometimes the best kind of networking is not to sell but just simply form relationships that naturally become useful to one another.
It is important that you have a clear idea of what you intend to gain from networking ahead of going. If you go to a networking event with an open mind there is a lot to be learnt, conversations with like-minded business people can be ever useful and not necessarily create a sale but increase your knowledge, which is far more valuable.
Final business networking tips
Top tips to remember when attending an event is to: be proactive and initiate genuine conversations, put your business cards to use, and listen actively to what other people have to say.
Remember, be realistic, you may not convert connections into tangible sales every time.
Bespoke Support Network is a newly launched company; it has a hub of experienced professional advisers in a variety of areas specifically aimed to help businesses and individuals
Revisit our live coverage from The Business Show 2016
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