Hate The Word "Networking"? We Love "Mingling"!
Networked businesses tend to be open, random, and supportive, whereas those relying on hierarchical, traditional management methods are closed, selective, and controlling.
Successful networks help you with resilience to outside forces like recessions & can aid you in meeting new clients, raising your profile, exploring new suppliers/ ideas / markets / partnerships / funding.
But what is the right network mix for you & does it have to be face to face?
Methods of Mingling to Maximise Your Money:
Face to Face is the most obvious but it can take so many different forms both formal & informal through:
1:1’s /seminars or workshops / formal networking meet-ups / dinners / charity events / co-working days / training days / away days
Coffee & chat / cluster group meet-ups / meeting colleagues for a chat in the corridor / a quick bite for lunch
So it doesn’t have to be a big, daunting group meet-up, it can be a casual 1:1 affair (in business terms)!!!!
Social Media through Facebook / Twitter etc
Blogs / Newsletters
I’m really not the biggest fan of the formal suited & booted, old boys network type of meetings & I really hate the word “Networking”. However, there is an argument to say that most businesses need an element of every type of networking method in their marketing mix.
You need to get to know your clients& create meaningful dialogue. However, they will usually have a multitude of backgrounds & interests & so by using one method of communication you’re never going to conquer all! A mix of face to face / social media / calling / & blogging will hopefully go a long way to helping. More often than not if you’re an introvert then you’re generally a good listener so everyone has great qualities, not everyone is loud & dynamic and it’d be a loud place if we were!
Other names for networking:
Meet N Greet; Mingle; Hob Nob; Run Elbows; Schmooze; Associate
Top tips for handling these meetings if you’re a bit nervous!
- Create yourself an “Elevator Pitch” of 30 seconds & no more. This will create an impression of confidence & preparation. No matter whether you’re at a formal meeting or having a coffee with friends, you’ll often be asked “What is your company about?” or “What do you do for a living?” If you have something prepared then you will feel so much more confident, but keep it concise and include the following:
Your name, business, where you’re based, your specialism / offering & your aims & always end positively.
- Be aware of your body language – stand tall & proud, don’t slouch as people will think you’re completely disinterested (you might be but don’t let them know that).
When speaking try to look the other person in the eyes, be aware of his/her body language to use as a guide for interest and reaction to you personally, and to help your assessment of the other person’s character and mood.
- If you get there early it’s easier to start conversations as 1:1’s or smaller groups, judge the environment, never try to approach a closed circle / group engrossed in discussion.
- Opening discussion “What brings you here? How long have you been a member of this organisation? Hi, I’ve never been to this event before. You look like a regular—any tips you could give me on what to expect? What are the best sessions here? What’s your story?
- Always try to be interested and ask open ended questions, try to pick up on hobbies / interests & things the other person is clearly passionate about. DO NOT just talk about yourself & try to talk for around 5/10 minutes & then move on. DO NOT GO straight for the business card & sales pitch, always build the relationship first.
- Closing a conversation, be polite & exit gracefully. Perhaps if you’ve met a good contact then you could arrange a follow up or it could be time to move to the next workshop etc.
Local Newry Mingling Meet-ups:
Newry & Mourne Business Networking Group – 7.30am to 9am every Tues morn in the Cannal Court (John Hughes is the contact) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Newry Business Focus – 7.45am to 9am every Tues morn in Enterprise Centre, Win Industrial Estate, Newry (Adrian Buckley contact – email@example.com )
Newry Creates – Thursday evenings monthly from 7pm -9pm in Amplified Bar, Newry (contact Eve Earley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chris McCabe email@example.com). It’s a very relaxed group with different speakers each month comprising freelancers / inspirational speakers / some carrying out projects / new community group speakers (all sorts)! There’s pizza & a bar, what more could you want!
Newry Coderdojo is run by Newry Hacker Space (always looking for new equipment & space to run more courses)
Banbridge Business Networking Group – 7.30am- 9am last Thursday of every month in Enterprise Centre, Scarva Rd, Banbridge (Yvonne Clysedale contact – firstname.lastname@example.org )
BizMums – a new franchised networking group brought over from England for busy Mums / women. It’s up & running in Lurgan, Belfast, Banbridge & there’s a new meetup happening in Newry 19th March at 10am at The FunHouse (join the group on FB & Kate Podranga is the contact)
Tangible Ireland – www.tangibleireland.com
Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade – http://www.newrychamber.com/
Newry Junior Chamber – http://www.newryjuniorchamber.com/
WomenInBusiness NI events are often happening in Newry. http://www.womeninbusinessni.com/
What groups / meet-ups would interest you going forward or like to see more of, maybe?
Open coffee mornings
Cluster groups for particular industries e.g. Wired Newry (digital businesses), Glug (for Creatives), Write Club (for writers), Geek Club
Business Curry Club / Craft Beer
Scouts – new to starting up a business?