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My top 5 tips for leveraging every networking activity

Fri 12 August 2011

As a BNI (Business Networking International) Director, I am someone who has completely immersed themselves in the world of networking.

It's always interesting when I meet business people to find out their views on networking. I'm keen to help business owners leverage their networking activity - not only by getting out and doing more networking to generate new business, but also advising and assisting in helping them to improve the current networking they are doing.

So here are my top 5 tips for leveraging every networking activity:

The Pitch...

At BNI, we call this your '60 Seconds' - some refer to it as your Elevator Pitch. Effectively, this is a succinct overview of what you do, the value you create, what you can do for others and who you would most like to be referred to, all delivered in a 60 second framework.

Preparing a pitch is critical and it can be used at any time anyone asks the question... ‘So, what do you do...?' . Test yourself right now. Have you got your pitch sorted? What would you say if someone asked you that very question at a networking event today. Make your pitch clear, succinct and compelling. You want to make an impact.

Follow Up...

So, you've networked and met new people. You've come away with business cards and potential new contacts and new business. Now what? What's your ‘follow up' strategy?

Speed has an impact on effectiveness when you are networking, you want to build share of mind and retain the impact you made on the first meeting. So be sure to follow up. Strike whilst the iron's hot, as they say... and make contact as soon as you can. Send an email to say something simple - like ‘Great to meet you at XYZ event, let's arrange a catch up - would be good to carry on the conversation. How are you fixed for X date for a coffee?

Don't worry about appearing ‘pushy'. You're simply catching up and getting a dialogue going. Think about it... How would it look if you followed up the conversation 3 or 4 weeks later?

Link In...

LinkedIn is a perfect resource for leveraging those business cards that have been lying around gathering dust. Each time you meet a new contact, make a point of checking them out on LinkedIn. If they have a profile, then connect with them via LinkedIn. It's a simple way of managing your contacts and keeping them updated of your activity at all times. 

Save the data...

If you are not using LinkedIn, then be sure to record your contacts in a database (even if it's a simple excel spreadsheet titled ‘new contacts' - which logs: name, email address, url, contact numbers and where you met them) it's so important that you manage your networking contacts.

Keeping them all in one place makes it much simpler to send an email to them. You can even record where you met them - as let's face it, if you are doing a lot of networking and meeting a lot of people, it's going to be a useful ‘memory jog'.

Share...

Networking is an everyone wins scenario. The objective is to grow a network of useful and purposeful contacts that can leverage one another's services. If you've met someone and you know you have contacts that they should be talking to - then share your contacts, get them in touch. If they hit it off and business is generated, then, you've got something out of that too. You've grown your ‘influence' - and share of mind. And are more likely to refer relevant business and contacts your way too.

So get to it...

Any other points you want to add to this post - what are your ideas and tips for networking... share your comments.

Happy networking

Laura

aura Hurren is BNI Executive Director for London. A leading business networking expert Laura works with businesses in London to help them leverage networking opportunities, generate new business and create new contacts. If you are interested in learning more about business networking and want to join a networking group in London - then simply contact @laurahurren.

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