Making the most of networking

IT’S a feeling experienced by many: the butterflies in your stomach as you make the first move, the delight as your target responds to your advances and then the flop as you realise you’ve left the neat pile of business cards sitting on your desk… again.

This business buzzword strikes fear into the heart of people everywhere, but ‘networking’ can be useful and enjoyable – if only you give yourself the time to prepare.

In this world of increasingly sophisticated events for business communities, networking is no longer limited to a couple of hours in a stark room, sipping warm wine and hovering over a plate of curling sandwiches.

For instance, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has taken networking to a new level, including BBQ and jazz evenings, the RSNO’s Symphonies at Six and gourmet breakfasts at La Bonne Auberge, not to mention its renowned speed networking lunches.

So, be prepared

Before you leave the office to head off to the latest networking opportunity, make sure you’ve given time to decide what you want to achieve from the event.

Are there people or companies you are interested in making a link with, business leads that you are looking to chase up, or are you simply looking to widen your circle of contacts?

Whatever your objective, make sure you remember a stack of business cards to ensure that any potential clients or contacts can recall who you are, what you do and, most importantly, how to get in touch.

The approach

The hardest part of any networking evening is making the initial approach to your fellow guests. What is key, however, is to remember that everyone is in there for the same reason – to make business contacts and meet new people.

Hopefully, any fabulous entertainment on offer at many of these events will give you an easy opening line, but if you’re still nervous, a warm smile, friendly greeting and a proffered hand are still the best ways to put your fellow networkers at ease.

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