Derbyshire South

News in Derbyshire South Region


Fri 4 May 2012

When you visit business networking events you often have the opportunity to collect other peoples business cards, either from a business card table with all the members cards on it, or when cards are handed round the table. 
Some of those contacts may lead to immediate opportunities for business or referrals, but what can you do with all the other cards you have collected? Many people simply put them in a drawer and forget about them, however if you do that you are not maximising the effectiveness of your networking.
For years I attended networking events and collected thousands of business cards. I wondered why I wasn't getting the level of business I desired. I thought perhaps I wasn't sat next to the right person, or hadn't had that chance conversation that could have led to that sale!
One day the penny dropped for me when an experienced networker told me that it's not who is in the room that matters - it's who they know. She said "Stop counting your cards, and make your cards count!"
Another close networking contact of mine Sam Rathling, who is a highly successful networker, told me that the secret to getting great results from networking is to follow up with contacts and arrange a one to one meeting, with the aim of each other finding out more about each others businesses and beginning to build trust and relationships. 
Rather than putting your cards into a drawer, the next time you go to a networking event why not take a few minutes afterwards to get in touch with each of your new contacts - even those you don't necessarily think could lead to any business, and ask if you can get together for a coffee to learn more about what they do.
During networking events there is very little time to get to know people and it's not always obvious whether or not someone could become a good referrer for your business. Before I used to think that networking was about selling to other people in the room, now I realise that it's about getting to know people, building up relationships, and looking for opportunities for each other.
Social networking is a great way to further strengthen relationships with people you have met at networking events. It's quick and simple to connect with people on LinkedIn. All you do is click Add Connections at the top right of the page, and enter the email addresses directly from the business cards. Once you are connected on LinkedIn, have a look at the persons profile page and follow them on Twitter as well!
If you don't have time to meet everyone for a coffee, you can send them a quick email instead inviting them to connect with you on LinkedIn and Twitter. Social networking is a great way to maintain and build relationships with people you have met. That way you can keep all you connections updated about any upcoming events, share useful information, get into conversations, and share or re-tweet anything of interest posted on the social networks by those you are connected with.
According to Dr Ivan Misner, the worlds leading expert on business networking, "The number one trait of a successful networker is always following up". So to improve the effectiveness of your networking put your cards to use and follow up!

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