Love it or loathe it, marketing is an absolute must for any business so here are 10 top tips on really making it work!

1. Do your homework!

Before attending any sort of networking event it’s important to do your homework first.  If there are going to be any guest speakers then be sure to find out a little bit about them and always be sure to get as much information as you can about whoever’s hosting the event.  By doing this you’ll make conversation so much easier and might even find a common ground – perhaps you’ve worked for the same employer, work in the same business area or have a shared personal interest.  Just a little bit of research can make a massive difference to the whole networking experience yet is often overlooked!

2. Arrive early

Whilst it’s quite tempting to sneak in at the last minute it’s not an effective way of operating.  On the other hand, if you get to the venue in plenty of time, you’ll get more chance to speak with people as and when they arrive – ultimately meaning that you’ll network much more than sneaking in at the back.

3. Take your business cards

This might sound pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how many people forget their business cards or, worse still, produce a really tatty one having emptied the entire contents of their bag to find it.  It’s also important to make sure your cards contain as much information as possible – always use the reverse side too.  First impressions most definitely count!

4. Find a common interest

Whilst networking (and if you’ve done your homework in advance) always try and find a common interest with other businesses.  LinkedIn is a great way of doing this since it often shows a person’s personal interests outside of work.  It might be that you have something in common e.g. book clubs, a certain sport or a group.  By striking a personal note with someone you’ll find it much easier to network and who knows? – you might even end up sharing your interest together.

5. Remember something personal

This is such an effective technique yet very rarely used.  If you can possibly discover something personal about someone you can definitely use this to your advantage e.g. a birthday, a forthcoming launch date, an important meeting or whatever.  What better way to connect with someone than by sending them a brief ‘good luck’ email before the event – or a birthday card.  It’s certainly a great way to get yourself remembered.

6. Keep your ear to the ground!

Whilst you’re at the event be sure to listen out for any forthcoming events which might be of interest.  Whilst you don’t want to keep networking with the same people time and time again, you’re most likely to hear about other opportunities coming up so be sure to listen out for them and if in doubt – ask.

7. No networking events? Host your own!

If there aren’t any suitable events coming up then why not take the plunge and host one yourself?  Not only is it a great way to promote your own business but you’ll also make more contacts in the process.  Lunchtime meets tend to be popular since it gives people a break from the office so why not put a few sandwiches on and see how it goes?

8. Keep a note of your networkers!

Always be sure to set a few minutes aside after every networking meeting to make a note of who you spoke to.  You can either do this on an Excel spreadsheet or less informally, by writing key points on the back of their business card.  (This is also a great time to note down any key dates you need to remember!).  Once you become a regular at networking it’s easy to forget details so make sure you don’t!

9. KIT (Keep In Touch)!

One of the most important things to do after a networking event is to Keep In Touch!  There’s little point attending events if you don’t stay in touch and even if there aren’t any immediate connections or requirements that’s not to say that there won’t be in the future.  It doesn’t take much time to stay in touch or perhaps you could simply send your monthly newsletter or updates by way of gentle reminder.

10. Be Yourself!

Above all else, always be yourself!  If you’ve got a great sense of humour then don’t be afraid to use it.  Let your personality shine through and you’ll soon be remembered at all the local events – hopefully for all the right reasons!