Northern Powerhouse

The Business Northumberland blog

We’ve all been there.

You show up at the networking event, business cards in hand and sales pitch prepared… but the room seems closed. Everyone else has apparently been there for hours. They’re deep in conversation with people they seem to have known for years, comfortable and with drinks in hand, and you’re just a stranger there to try and sell yourself.

What do you do? Leave while you still can? Desperately hover at the outskirts of a conversation and hope somebody invites you in? Lurk in the corner pretending you have something important happening on your phone? No! That won’t win you any business!

Instead try following our guide for surviving any networking nightmare.

1. Remember everybody there feels the way you do. Very, very few people are good at networking. Everybody else had that initial moment of fear, and nobody will begrudge you awkwardly entering their conversation – chances are they entered the conversation the same way.

2. Get yourself a drink. The coffee bar is the natural home of first conversations, having a drink gives you something to do with your hands and a caffeine boost will help get you talking. Why not open a dialogue about your shared dislike of networking?

3. Introduce yourself. It seems an obvious point, but don’t forget to say who you are and what you do while asking the same of the person you are speaking to! In an environment where everybody is nervous, if you don’t make the effort there’s a good chance somebody else might be too awkward to ask.

4. Have an escape route. While speaking to everybody in the room is perhaps a bit ambitious, neither do you want to be stuck talking to the same person for the whole event. Get yourself another drink, take a quick comfort break, or mention there’s somebody else you’d like to speak to.

5. Set your expectations. Ask yourself: are you in the room to buy? Would you make a spur of the moment decision to enter a contract with someone you just met? If not, how likely do you think anybody else there is? You do not network to sell. What you are there for is to make connections. To let people know what you do. To develop trust. To plant the seed so, when the person you are talking to comes upon an opportunity that you can help with in 3 weeks’ time, your name is the one that comes to mind.

6. Be yourself. This is by far the most important thing you can do at a networking event. You might not be the most natural networker, or most confident speaker, or even able to drink a cup of tea without spilling it. But you want people to know you, to remember you and ultimately to think of you when they or somebody they know has a problem you can help with. They are more likely to remember a genuine person who seemed nervous but who knew what they were talking about, than the sleek and polished presentation that went straight in one ear and out of the other.

Next time you go networking, make sure to take our handy survival guide with you!

Business Northumberland hosts frequent networking events across the county, with more dates being added all the time. Arch also hosts a monthly Informal Friday networking event in Morpeth.

All Upcoming Networking Events
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