Launching a new business and diving into the realm of the self-employed is scary enough. Add the necessity of being the face of your brand, networking becomes an important component of business growth.
What has subsequently followed since I joined We Mean Biz (WMB) is becoming part of a supportive community filled with like-minded people whose sole aim is simple, everyone's success! I am currently 3 months into my membership and still vividly remember my first meeting. Walking into the room for the first time was daunting, there’s no denying it. There are however simple ways you can make your experience far more enjoyable and at the end of the day, more productive in assisting your business growth.
It may sound simple but a smile can do wonders in breaking the ice with a new group of people. A smile makes you seem (even if you don’t particularly feel it) confident, happy and most importantly approachable! People are more likely to start a conversation with you if you have open body language and a smile on your face.
Perhaps the hardest out of the 5 tips, have the confidence to break the ice and strike up a conversation. You may be in a group where this isn’t necessary and someone chats to you first but if not, don’t be tempted to sit there on your phone or check your emails. The time before the meeting starts is perhaps one of the most important moments to create a positive initial impression. Try use casual but open phrases to initiate the chat. A simple comment about how good the coffee is can do wonders!
My biggest habit I must consciously kick is leaving my business cards in my hand. This can lead to the awkward passing down the table afterwards or tracking someone down post meeting. Make sure you keep them in your pocket or hand and give them out to everyone you meet. This looks professional, makes it easier for them to contact you and also connect with you on social media.
The part that most people hate is the introductory 60 seconds about yourself. Whether you read from a script or talk off the cuff, my crucial piece of advice is simply speak slowly and clearly. Again, channel your inner confidence and make an amazing impression on the group. Don’t rush your speech and stumble over your words. Big deep breaths and really be the very best brand ambassador you can be.
When the meeting has finished you may be mistaken in thinking your job is done. How wrong you are! Networking and building these new business connections takes time and effort. To get the best out of your time (and membership fees), booking in one to one meetings with other members is crucial. Learn more about what they do, share more about your business and show how amazing your personality is. I personally aim for 2 a month but you can do more or less as you see necessary.