Why it is important to network - whatever your profession

For many people the idea of ‘networking’ conjures up images of suit-clad professionals swapping business cards in swanky wine bars. While this is of course an option, we’re here to tell you that there are other ways.

But first of all – why should you bother networking at all? In previous blogs we have discussed the importance of being online and how social media can help promote your business, but it is important sometimes to go back to basics – leaving your office to meet real life people. Getting out and about like this will help you connect with like-minded professionals as well as potential clients, offering ample opportunity to promote and grow your business.

Where should I go?

Start researching your industry – are there any trade shows coming up or networking events you can attend? LinkedIn is a great platform for professionals and you can often find events like this here.

If you can’t find anything appropriate, why not host your own event? Rather than hiring out an expensive bar, try something less formal. If you are a nutritionist for example, why not host an event in your favourite café and ask everyone to bring something to eat? Not only will this give you something to talk about, the casual feel will help put your guests at ease.

What should I do?

If you are feeling nervous before the event, remember the people attending are only human and may well be just as anxious as you. Initiate conversation by commenting on the food/venue, mentioning something topical or go simple with a “Hello, my name is…”

If you feel the conversation is going well and you want to keep in touch, make sure you share your contact details before leaving the conversation. This can be done with a trusty business card or simply by exchanging phone numbers.

Tip: If you’re at a large event and chatting to lots of people, scribble a quick description of who you’re chatting to on the back of the card given to you. This will help you put faces to names when you look back at the cards.*

Following up

A week or two after the event, be sure to follow up with the contacts you’ve made. Send a short email saying how nice it was to meet them and suggest another meeting to catch up and exchange ideas. If you work for yourself, these kinds of meetings can really help you feel less isolated – and who knows, you may even make a friend.