Tips to working the room at a networking event
Networking: scary, intimidating, tricky and even tedious.
Here at Payzone, we appreciate how challenging it can be to run a small business. Sure, it can be rewarding and fun but it’s not without challenges. So what can you do? One idea is to try and utilise your local business community. This could be done in a number of ways. Networking, participating in local events, charity work and even simply creating connections.
Let's say you run a restaurant and you're on the hunt for new ideas to brighten up the menu. Maybe there is a local business that produces a specific kind of food product. Brilliant, why not approach this business and see how you can work together and partner up.
They get the benefit of having their product being exposed to a larger audience and you have another potential revenue driving recipe. It could be a win win for both - but certainly this kind of cold approach does no harm at all. Plus it gives you the chance to see what kind of businesses operate in your area. So even if nothing comes of this you will get a good knowledge of your locality.
But this isn’t the only way to engage with the locals. Another route is to go to networking events. Fortunately, for you, there are lots of great ways to find them.
Sites such as Meetup cater to event hosting in specific areas around different needs. You could even host one yourself and build up your own community. Once at a networking even you have many opportunities to work the room and hopefully meet fellow businesses where there is a possibility of some kind of collaboration.
However this is not the only forum. Entrepreneurs may not want to always ‘talk shop’ in their downtime. So sometimes it pays to be a bit clever and less direct with certain people. That might mean engaging with people in a more relaxed environment.
Do you have a hobby that you may want to share with others? Why not find a local club that does this. This should be something you want to do anyway and because this could be a place to make friends, and maybe just maybe, make some vital connections.
We appreciate that you might want to keep your hobby for the one purpose of fun - which is totally understandable. But if you are looking to find other avenues to locate local businesses one that could work for you is volunteering. Is there a local homeless shelter, food kitchen or old age home near you.
Why not go and bring some of your employees (if you have any) with you. It’s great for your business to be associated to a local charity in terms of your brand.
But you might meet someone through your good work who could give you a financial reward if you're lucky. Have business cards armed just for good measure.
If you are looking for something where you can not only network but can also have your voice heard then you should consider getting involved with your Chamber of Commerce. You might feel the government could be doing more to help small businesses, many other businesses will undoubtedly feel the same as you. This is a perfect forum to express your opinions and also make connections with other local businesses.
When going about locating local businesses you should be using every tool at your disposal. And whilst we stress nothing beats good old face to face do not underestimate the power of digital.
One way this can be done is through social networking sites like Twitter, Linkedin etc… Many businesses may operate solely online as an e-commerce enterprise, so probably won’t have traditional office spaces. Search engines (particularly Google) also present excellent opportunities to locate a wide plethora of local businesses. Many small businesses will have listings on Google my Business or have a presence on other online directories such as Yelp or Yellow pages. Others may be using a local Regus or other type of serviced office.This wouldn’t be obvious without the power of the internet and endless resources that can be available to you.
But don’t just go by our advice. There are plenty of different ways to engage with your local business community. Whatever you decide we are confident it will be the right thing for you and your business.