10 Successful Business Networking Strategies

By: Robert Thomson

1. Have a light meal before the event. The main objective for all networking event is not to eat, or drink.. Some events have rather tight schedule and can have only 30 minute or less in total (after accounting people who are late for the event) for the people to enjoy their meal. Hence, I always have something light before the event and maximize the time by talking to people during the serving time. Just grab a drink and you are ready to connect!

2. Prepare a core marketing message along with the event. This tip works greatly with tip number 6 because you are now taking into consideration of the purpose of the attendees. Take for example, if you are Grant Consultant and you are attending an event for new business owners who are less than 6 months in business. Do you think you can ask questions like 'Are you aware of these grants that help new startups to cut costs?' or simply share how your clients have benefited from your Grant Consultancy.

3. Prepare questions to lead your prospects. All the people in the event are your prospects. The only way to help them is by asking questions. For example, a Web Designer can start by asking people if they have a website. If no, continue to ask why not? Of course, this may not be the first question you ask most of the times. Timing is critical here.

4. Invite your clients along. There is nothing better than having live testimonials talking about your services during a networking event! I see this as WIN-WIN because your clients will also benefit by talking and connecting to other businesses and there will be a great chance of your clients talking about you since you are the one who brought them to the event. Start by bringing three of your clients and see what I meant!

5. Bring your close business associates along. If you are unable to bring your clients to a networking event, then try inviting your close business associates along. They can be your close business partners where you have both work together and know each others' businesses inside out. There will be opportunities where you will recommend someone who needs your business associates' services and vice versa.

6. Broadcast the event that you are going. Write a blog post that you are attending the business event in advance or share it on your facebook status. Some people will be interested and contact you to find out more. This, in a way, will help you to connect to more people and help them by linking up with more connections. This method is extremely powerful and can help you to get exposure for your business as well if you have a corporate blog.

7. Set a target to help someone. I believe the power in giving. I make it a habit to see what can I do to help at least one person in any networking event nowadays. You may want to use the following question to start off, 'May I know how can I help you in your business?'. To date, there are only a handful of business owners who ask me this question, and I can still remember who they are. Most importantly, I always find ways to support them and refer them more businesses they refer me. Do you see the effect here?

8. Ask 80%, Share 20%. What I mean here is to talk less and listen more. In order to help someone like what I say in tip 17, you need to ask more questions. I figure out that the more questions I ask, the more I can help out the business owners either by connecting them with my sphere of influence or assist them in area of my expertise. I am aware that everyone of us is keen to share what we know, but you must also remember this, networking event is the worst place you share your stories..

9. Holding your drink using your left hand. We get into a bit of details here. You should practice holding your drink using your left hand to free your right hand as it makes you easier to shake hands with others. Just a small note here =)

10. Speak the the host first. Whenever possible, talk to the event organizer first soon after you arrive the event. Introduce yourself and check with the host if they know of anyone who is in the trades that you are looking for. In most cases, the host will be able to link you up with someone else.

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KC likes to attend networking events and has since benefited a great deal out of every opportunities. You can read the full list of 30 Successful Networking Strategies at KC's blog - Business Sense. Visit Top 10 Successful Business Networking Strategies.

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