Amy Lishman: Learn how to network like a pro with some great tips

Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce team - Amy Lishman membership manager.  Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate
Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce team - Amy Lishman membership manager. Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate

Networking. Generally something that people loathe but mostly everyone agrees they must do it. Here are my top tips to boost your networking success in 2018.

1) Show up

Showing up to networking events is often half the battle.

We’re busy people (in our membership survey almost a third of members said your biggest challenge was needing more time) but networking is part of doing business, not separate from it.

Networking is a vital part of growing businesses and face to face networking is still the number one way to build trust.

2)  Body language matters

Body language is important when networking. When two people are talking, they will often turn to face each other head on making it almost impossible for someone to join the conversation. It’s remarkable the difference you can make to the number of people you meet by opening yourself up, literally, by moving into a V shape.

Another simple way to encourage people to talk to you is to smile – it makes you much more approachable.

3)  What makes you different?

If you get asked what you do in your business, make sure you’re telling people what differentiates yourself from your competitors. Practice talking about your business and even ask your customers what they think makes you different from the rest as help with your networking.

4) Ask for introductions

At the Chamber, I often get asked to make introductions to people at events.

It’s a great way to connect with the people you want to meet, especially if you don’t have much time and you know who you want to talk to. Use your network and ask for introductions. Don’t be shy – my favourite saying as a membership manager is ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’.

5) Follow up, follow up, follow up

Once you’ve left the networking event it’s all too easy to get back to the office and sucked into the latest drama or urgent e-mails and forget about the mound of business cards on your desk.

But not following up could be costing you some important connections and business.

A short e-mail within a day or two of the event following up on something you discussed, or even just sharing a helpful bit of information can go a long way in building and developing your network.

6) Do it all again

Networking gets easier the more you do it. Practice makes perfect so get out there and start your networking in 2018 as you mean to go on.

If you’d like to find out more about Brighton Chamber and how we can help you with your networking in 2018, visit www.businessinbrighton.org.uk or call 01273 719097