The 5 golden rules of business networking

Jun 17, 2016 by
The 5 golden rules of business networking

Digital businesses represent nirvana for the introvert entrepreneur. No personal interactions, just high quality work in exchange for payments via Paypal, right!? While this is certainly one way of doing business, limiting human interaction in real life is normally not a wise choice if you wish to grow a brand and increase your profits in the long-term. Networking can be an excellent source of business contacts, inspiration, new ideas and even friendships.

As Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, states:

I join a lot of networking groups. Much of my inspiration comes from the people I’ve met in these groups. I’m amazed at how many entrepreneurs suggest that conferences or networking groups are useless. The trick is to get into the right ones.

Here are the five golden rules of business networking.

1 – Befriend event organisers

It’s all well and good assessing the list of exhibitors at a particular conference and deciding which ones you will go and talk to. However, you can make life a lot easier on yourself by getting talking to the event organisers themselves. These individuals will have the most comprehensive knowledge of the people who are attending your event and can provide you with an introduction which will put you on a positive foot before you even say a word.

2 – Offer value

One popular adage relating to content marketing is: “Tell, don’t sell”. This also applies to networking. If you go in with no agenda and an open mind, you’re much more likely to have positive interactions with people. By all means tell them about your business and your services, but also be interested in what their business is about. Even if there is no immediate compatibility, they might introduce you to someone further down the road who is incredibly useful. Also, coming across like someone who isn’t solely obsessed with money is definitely beneficial for your reputation!

3 – Know your stuff

While listening and offering value to the people you meet should always be your first priority, if more serious discussions emerge, it’s essential to be well prepared. Know your products and services inside out and have all the information with you if the opportunity is there to make a deal on the spot. People trust those who have deep domain knowledge, so when asked a question about your company or industry, make sure you’re able to answer it then and there without going to your phone to check.

4 – Represent your brand with integrity

It’s best to not go to networking events with the hard intention of selling to people, but likewise, you can also be too relaxed. It’s perfectly fine to have a couple of drinks throughout the day if you feel it helps you to relate to people, but it’s not acceptable to treat a business conference like a cocktail party. Always represent your brand with integrity when networking, just like you would when dealing with customers or online via your content marketing and social media usage.

5 – Take notes

When swapping business cards with people, always write down notes of the interaction on the back of them. This will help you to establish a level of familiarity when you contact the person after the event. An associate of mine does a lot of networking, and she always records people’s names in her phone with a note about the conversation she had. To this day, I am still in her phone under the name: “Jack Gambling”! As a side note, discussing hobbies which don’t pertain to business can (counterintuitively) result in great long-term relationships!