Once you get over the nagging message in your mind that your parents instilled in you about not talking to strangers, you find yourself heading for a room of them at a business networking event.
Networking can provide a window on the world which can introduce you to new people who have contacts, knowledge, advice and occasionally a need for the product or service that you are promoting. Just remember that they need to trust you before they will usually start talking about buying from you.
The benefits of networking are many, but you should put in some time to research your options and to prepare for the events. They can take place morning, noon, or night and, since the advent of Covid, online as well as face to face. A slightly different approach is needed for each. With online, you need to be conscious that time is limited and everyone should be given a chance to speak. Hogging the microphone gives you a very bad reputation and can turn people off anything that you want to say.
Our very own John Atkinson, based in our County Durham area is often found at networking meetings and is always a good place to start especially if the nerves are jangling and you want a friendly face. He’s a great source of knowledge in terms of the type of support we can offer you and your business – whether it’s building your business or indeed building your business confidence.
County Durham has a number of excellent business groups to help you to build your network and there are many groups now in place to support you ranging from local government run forums to independent business clubs including:
- North East England Chamber of Commerce – www.neecc.co.uk
- Business Durham – www.businessdurham.co.uk/events/
- Federation of Small Business – www.fsb.co.uk
- Durham Business Club – www.durhambusinessgroup.co.uk
- Aycliffe Business Park Community – www.aycliffebusinesspark.co.uk
- Bishop Auckland & Shildon Business Network – Details via www.businessdurham.co.uk
- Do Business Network – www.dobusinessnetwork.com
- East Durham Business Network – www.eastdurhambusiness.co.uk/
A recently developed website called www.netkno.co.uk is a great resource that acts as at a glance guide as well as the popular Eventbrite website – a great way of looking across the region and identifying events that could suit your business.
Networking can be difficult as you take those first few steps into the unknown, but a great starting point is to look at attendee lists before the event so you can work out who may be useful to speak to.
Timing is everything so why not arrive slightly earlier so that you can scout out the room and get a chance to speak to the host, who is most likely to know all the attendees. You can also study the layout and work out where you want to sit. Listen to others and learn about them. Ask questions which help you get to know them and work out how they may be able to help you in your business journey. If you don’t know where to start, ask us, here at NBSL we know about many of the networking groups across the patch. We are happy to help.
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