Whether you are just starting out in business or have already established yourself within your field, business networking events are a great way to boost your reputation and enhance your presence to a wider audience.

Choosing an event

The idea of business networking may seem like a daunting one but by choosing the right event to visit you can be sure to find like-minded businessmen to converse with and share ideas. It is vital that you treat networking events as anything but a social jolly. Forget the free alcohol and canapés and concentrate on meeting influential people that can help you and vice versa. When choosing a networking event to visit always consider your industry and target customers before deciding whether it is worthwhile making an appearance.

Preparing for an event

It is important to prepare thoroughly before you travel to any networking event for your business. Be sure to identify the influential speakers expected to be present and even create your own list of individuals you would like to converse with. You may consider some background research on these people ensuring you are well versed in their business achievements.

Conversational skills

When present at an event always do your best to appear approachable and enthusiastic even if you are feeling nervous and timid. Whilst it is very important to engage in discussion, do be mindful of spending too much time with each person. Aim for a chat no longer than five or six minutes which should give you plenty of time to find any common ground between you. You should also aim to listen more than you talk as this gives the impression that you are genuinely interested in what the other person has to say.

Future events and networking

The best way to network is to do it little and often. Visit as many networking events as you can. If a particular businessman sees you at more than one conference they are more likely to remember you and take you seriously. It is unlikely that you will secure too many leads in your first networking event but time and patience will prevail. Consequently you should always have a professional-looking business card to hand ready to give any contacts you make. You may also consider placing a photo of your face on the card as businessmen are far more likely to put a face to a name.

Following up on leads

If you have some encouraging discussions at your networking event then do not hesitate to get in touch with any potential leads afterwards. As soon as you have someone’s business card get in touch within 24-hours of the event and arrange an opportunity to discuss a potential partnership further. Strike while the iron is hot and they remember you. If you meet someone interesting you may also choose to initiate further conversation via the numerous forms of social media – follow them on Twitter and show an active interest in what they are doing.

Becoming successful at business networking events is all about perseverance and patience. There is tremendous value in business networking as you can develop your knowledge and understanding of the industry whilst boosting your reputation and contacts book.