Revealing My Best Kept Networking Secrets

I would like to share with you, exactly how I started a business, by accepting an invitation to a networking event…..

Back in 2011……Little did I know that saying YES to an invitation to a single networking event, would lead to starting not one, but two businesses and all this in a new country. I have attended many more networking events since then, seen beautiful venues and met some of the most extraordinary people you can imagine. I have been lucky.

Arriving in a new country as an immigrant is like starting your life all over again; only you have no networks to rely upon. So where do you start?….most importantly is to “Just Start It”. 

I LOVE meeting new people and enjoy walking into a room filled with strangers, but I also know not all people enjoy doing it! Meeting strangers and “putting yourself out there” is not everybody’s cup of tea. With this in mind, I want to share some tips with you, to make your next networking a breeze!

Planning and Preparation is Essential

Successful networking starts BEFORE arriving at the event

  • Make sure you know the dress code of the event and dress accordingly. Even if you only have one “good business suit and a pair of shoes” no one will notice. Always put your best foot forward.
  • Define what you would like to achieve by attending the event, let’s call it your Networking Objective*.
  • Know WHO will be at the event, check the guest list or the name badges on the welcome table. Knowing who will be at the event, helps to direct you to connect with those you want to build a relationship with and to work towards achieving your *Networking Objective.
  • The early bird catches the worm – arriving a little early gives you the opportunity to choose your seat wisely. Never have an empty seat around you or put your bag on the chair next to you – sit with those people you want to connect with. Although it is comfortable to sit with your mates; you are at the networking event to meet new people or whatever your *objective may be.

Being the “ONLY” Stranger in the Room

  • I know the feeling! Moving to new cities Beijing, Brisbane and then Perth – I have been a stranger at many events. Did this stop me from networking?

Certainly not…my best tips, for overcoming this situation, are:

  • Knowing who will be there, memorise names, faces and something unique about each person.Being authentic, with a friendly smile, attracts people to you
  • Remember, there are always others in the room who are new too, and feel exactly like you do
  • Introduce yourself to the network organiser(s), tell them that you are new. Network organisers love having newcomers at their events and would generally make an effort to introduce you to others and make you feel “right at home”.
  • As with most things in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Most important with networking, is to be consistent and show up again, and again. There might not have been fireworks the first time you attended; people want to see your commitment. To build relationships in business, you need to allow the natural process of knowing, liking and trusting to take its course.

Make it COUNT!

  • You are giving up time and a few dollars to attend most events, make sure you keep your networking objective* in mind.
  • Depending on the format and rules at the particular event – participate, prepare your Business Blurb (who you are and what you do) – even if you are jobless or not a business owner (yet!) and only at the event to connect with business people in your new community (like I was back in 2011).
  • Be prepared with business cards in hand, or ready to connect with your LinkedIn mobile app.
  • Take a few photos at the event and share these on your social media platforms.

AFTER the Event

  • Thank the organisers before you leave.
  • Send LinkedIn connection requests to all those whom you met at the event. TIP Use the business cards collected at the event to connect. Please, do not sign them up to your newsletter or email list without their express permission, as it might be the quickest way to lose your new connections.
  • Continue the conversation with these new found business associates, by following them on social media.
  • Follow up on any requests for your services, possible collaborations and other ventures discussed at the event. Write an email, make the call or set up a meeting. Nothing will happen if you do not take ACTION.

Most of all, enjoy the event, the people, the venue – BE in the moment. It will show and attract people to you.

Chaleen Botha

I welcome you to connect with me and to start networking on LinkedIn. Should you need assistance in setting up your LinkedIn profile, would like to receive personal Linkedin coaching or attend one of my Linkedin workshops, please contact me via LinkedIn message or find my contact details here.  Alternative book for my next workshop here.

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