By June 18, 2012 Read More →

Top networking tips for home workers

John Valentine, bizset networkingToday John Valentine, the founder of bizset networking who recently shared his views on networking for home workers, is back to help home workers get the best out of a networking event – and provide some examples of what not to do!

Hello again, John, what’s your top tip for getting the best from a networking event?
Turning up. If you don’t go you won’t get anything out of networking, if you do attend you never know the amazing opportunities and avenues that open up to you. I have experienced this first hand and witnessed it, yet so many people either don’t turn up when they say they would or cannot see the benefit in attending.

Also, I would say that being British we have an in built programme that says ‘don’t ask’ and to compound this reticence we are then ‘trained’ not to sell at networking events. At some point you have to explain what you do and if you get a flicker of interest you have to look to advance the conversation to a sale.

What’s your favourite conversation opener?
If you are in a position that you need a conversation opener you are not at a good networking event. I really think that it is the role of the organiser to make sure that people are introduced to each other so that they can be eased into a conversation, rather than try and think of an conversation opener.

Do you have any funny or cautionary tales about networking?
Take your pick – here are some of the most ridiculous things I have heard at a networking event.

1. ‘Hi I’m Bob, I’m an accountant and also a cleaner.’
It is fine to have two or more hats but don’t dilute your main offering by seeming desperate. So it’s great to say, ‘I’m a web designer and at weekends I have a photography business’ as this adds to your main job and makes you interesting; being a cleaner makes you look like a bad accountant.

2. ‘Hi I’m Bob, I’m an accountant I’m networking today because I’ve got no work on.’
Desperation is rarely attractive. If you only network when you have no work on, people only know you as desperate for work, so don’t advertise this at a networking event by only turning up when you aren’t busy.

3. ‘This networking group is great and has given me lots of business, but I’m not joining’.
Why? ‘Because it has a membership fee, I’d rather just go to free events’.
‘Do you get any work from those events’, response – ‘No, not really.’
Remember marketing is about ROI not about spending the least, if something makes more money than it costs to do, then do more of it, don’t replace it with a cheaper option that generates less profit.

4. ‘I’ve not got any business cards.’
If you are new in business and you are having them printed or looking for a good supplier it is fine to go to business networking events for a couple of weeks without business cards but after two weeks it starts to look unprofessional. And don’t tell me business cards are dead, they aren’t.

Thanks, John, I particularly like the bit about not needing a conversation opener – as I suspected, I have obviously been to some bad networking events!

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41 Comments on "Top networking tips for home workers"

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  1. David Wike says:

    I’d add to John’s comments that not only do you have to turn up but you need to do it regularly. So many people attend once and then never again. Networking is about building relationships, and that takes time.

    I’d also suggest that you don’t stand up and say, ‘Hi, I’m Bob and I’m a ….’. Far better to explain clearly in what way you help people and then tell them who you are. Focus on them, not yourself.

  2. John says:

    I agree entirely David. Monthly/ quarterly events, ad hoc free events and other irregular meetings are fine up to a point. BUT, the only way to get good consistent levels of business is to attend at least once a fortnight at your chosen group. Not least because, let’s say you are an accountant attending a bi monthly event – chances are 80% of the people there attend another group at least fortnightly and see an accoutant more regularly – so who are they building the relationship with?

  3. Judy says:

    Thanks for your expert advice, gentlemen. Unfortunately I think many people have quite a negative experience the first time they go to a networking event, and get put off.
    As I said at the end of John’s interview, it’s refreshing to hear an event organiser say you shouldn’t need a conversation-opener. Many people get warmly welcomed by the greeters at an event and then passed through into a room where regular attendees are huddled in little groups and show no inclination to talk to someone new.