So, you have decided to start a business on your own, or in a partnership, but you don’t know what to do next to gain customers, or to put your mark on the local business community.
Business Networking is one of the fastest and most efficient ways of getting your business out there, but some people (if not most) dread the idea of meeting new people to try to pitch to. This is the first and most common mistakes to make, as Networking is not really a thing to ‘sell’ your services to. Think of it as a good way of speaking about your new business ventures to a whole host of like-minded people who are already established within the local business community and that you can gain valuable knowledge of the local area.
Before you head out to try a new Networking Event with your handful of shiny new business cards, there are a few things that you need to do to ensure that you’re not going to be refused to join due to poor manners or lack of basic understanding of the events rules.
Rule number one is to choose the right organisation or event to attend or to apply to join.
The reason for this is that some event organisers don’t allow more than one business from the same sector attend. A good example of this is having 2 Plumbers at the same event. This is because each chapter, or event will promote each other’s services to prospective connections and competition may be an issue which is avoidable..
When it comes to seeing if the event is the right one for you are the rules, which you must adhere to. Some events state that you must refer a business from your chapter each week to someone or another business. Some people aren’t too comfortable with this and should you not adhere to this (or other) rules, then your membership will be potentially quite shortened and you may be asked to leave.
Some events insist on weekly attendance, which is a good rule to have as it ensures that a good weekly turnout and shows a commitment to the organisation. However, should you miss more than the allotted weeks, you may find that you’re asked to attend more regularly or you may have to leave the chapter. The way to look at this is to make sure that you fully commit to a chosen chapter as it can really pay off in the long term for your business growth.
Develop good business relationships with your chapter’s attendees.
This is where you can gain some very important relationships with local business owners who have been around the track quite a few times. You may be surprised when you realise just how valuable attending business networking events regularly can be.
Don’t be shy and go and meet as many people as possible, as everyone there will be welcoming and will introduce you and your business to the other event attendees. Remember that you can meet some unsuspecting connections that can really give your start up business a genuine launch!
Prepare, prepare, prepare…
There is nothing worse when you attend a new networking event and go along with no information about your business (except what you already know!) It is not uncommon for new attendees to turn up with no business cards, leaflets, or other information about what they do! Also a good pointer is to prepare to answer questions about your business. Sounds simple, but it has been seen time and time again that new business owners don’t know their own USP or Unique Selling Point. You have to know this, and if you don’t, then get working on what makes YOUR business unique or special.
Dress to impress.
Yes, we know it’s a cliche, but dressing appropriately is absolutely vital as it shows you care about appearance and how you and your business comes across to people, and prospective customers. If you’re a tradesman, grab a clean sweater or top with your business logo on it, and remember, be memorable!
There is nothing more awkward when attending a business event is to run out of questions to ask fellow attendees. This comes across as showing a lack of interest in anyone else’s business and is considered a big no no in the networking world. You are there to learn about everyone’s business, and it is also a good opener in pitching your business to others. Something that you can always count on is that when you’re talking to a business owner, that they may know someone who is looking for your specific services, so always be interested as this can lead to more referrals for you!
What can YOU do for others?
Offer some exclusive free services or products to members. This can be from a ‘free quote’ for work, free consultation or a free low cost product. You will be amazed at how this works as you will always be remembered. Plus it gives you a very good opportunity to try some business practices!
When attending networking events, always be helpful by listening out for possible referrals to your fellow chapter members. These can be from customers, friends or other business owners and you may also find the favour is returned!
What NOT to do.
It’s an exciting time to get out there and promote your business but there are some things that you must consider before you head out in the business networking world.
1) Don’t overspend on fancy business cards, pens, merchandise and other worthless stuff! This can ruin a business before it starts. There are many options on where to get some great deals of printing etc. For your first few print runs, don’t buy a huge bulk buy as you may be stuck with countless cards which may be irrelevant in 6 months as your business services has possibly changed. One of the best places to go to get your first business cards from is Vistaprint https://www.vistaprint.co.uk/
2) Only talk to people you know. It’s called networking for a reason, so get to it! Meet as many people as possible and never be afraid to circulate!
3) When given a business card, don’t just shove it in your pocket, as this shows a certain degree of rudeness or un interest in someone’s business. A good tip is to have a business card holder for other business cards and make sure that the card given is placed in there for safe keeping as you will need it for the next tip below!
What TO do after the event!
Follow up with an email or message to a new business owner you met. When you have met someone new that you may think is a good connection, or you just simply enjoyed meeting them, it’s always a good idea to send a short email to them to say how nice it was to meet them and how you enjoyed finding out about their business. Don’t however use this as an opportunity to re sell your business!
As a new business owner you are there to make connections and to get known in the business community. Networking can have some incredible benefits when starting out in business, and can lead to help in growing your business.
Want to take a look at what’s on in our local area? Check out these Local Business Networking Events in Brighton & Hove!
The Breakfast Club is an established (est 2001) business networking group which provides a fun and supportive opportunity for businesses in and around Brighton and Hove to gain more business, to learn how to network more effectively and to learn from each other. They meet on a Tuesday morning in Hove at The Courtland’s Hotel starting at 7.15 am and finishing at 8.45 am.
A dynamic, supportive and welcoming membership organisation for businesses of all sizes. Our purpose is to help and support our members, while working with the wider business community to develop the conditions that will help them thrive.
Toast. Business Networking In Brighton & Hove.
Toast is a business referral networking group and there are many benefits to becoming a ‘Toastie’ The organisers would be happy to discuss these with you at our meetings. Feel free to come along with no obligation to find out more!
Hove Business Networking Breakfast (BNI Hove Albion)
Only allow one representative of each profession or trade to become a member. This policy means members never have competition in the room but instead have a group of people who are very pleased to use or recommend their services.
Meetings are totally free to try (including a free breakfast) and there is no obligation to join.
4N Brighton Business Networking Lunch.
Looking for new business and contacts?
Come along and check out 4Networking Brighton Lunch!
We’re a friendly networking group that meets every other Thursday at the Brighton & Hove Golf Club Devil’s Dyke Road BN1 8YJ.
Please note that the event costs £15 (including VAT) to attend. This is payable in cash on arrival.
If you’re looking for a venue in Brighton & Hove to hold a Networking event or a new base for a chapter, why not contact us at The Dock Hub to enquire about our online Conference Room, which is available to hire!
Call 01273 830330 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.