Thanks again to Bizness Babe Wendy Tadokoro for writing part two of her ongoing series on networking. To recap, here is part one.
Part 2: Types of Networking
What type of networking is best for you?
Before we can answer that question, firstly let’s take a look at the different types of networking opportunities available. Basically networking is done either in person or through social media on line. It pays to network in person for a number of reasons, it allows you to meet new people, re-connect with older relationships, practise your social and communication skills –especially good to practise your elevator pitch. Even if no relationship develops with a person, at least he or she will likely remember you as a nice person if asked about you at some future point.
If you spend some time researching networking groups in the web, you will find there is a vast number so best to define your search to your local area. Networking organisers usually hold events monthly and you can join their database to receive reminders of upcoming events. Most events follow the format of a workshop followed by casual networking or speed networking. Some events are held in the evening, breakfast or at morning tea. Cost will depend upon the type of speaker and whether a meal is included. There are some free networking events around, these are usually held to promote a business but can still be good value. The best networking results usually come from attending functions for your particular industry. These would include trade shows, conferences and industry association seminars and training courses.
The other type of networking is a referral based format. Referral networking groups usually meet weekly, require a membership, commitment and the focus is on referring business within the group. Depending on your business, target market and your stage of development, these groups can be a very effective form of referral business.
Social networking includes platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other business forums. These can be very effective as part of your marketing if used correctly. Decide first if this type of networking/marketing will appeal to your target market before you invest your time.
At the start up phase of your business, the best strategy is to attend as many networking opportunities as you can manage. You will then be familiar with the different types of events, who attend, and importantly their relevance to your business. Attend events with an open mind and you will always gain something whether it is a new contact, a prospective client, some business advice, a new skill or valuable feedback.
Next time on the blog - Part 3, The Value of Networking.