10 Top Tips for Networking with Sterling

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10 Top Tips for Networking with Sterling

Whilst some of these tips may seem to scream of common sense, our experience tells us that even seasoned networkers welcome a reminder of how to get the very best value out of their networking.

1. Show up

This is so important that, if we could make this tip into the top 3 tips, we would! Showing up consistently is singularly THE most important aspect of networking. Being on time and being ‘present’ in the meeting, without distractions, is important too. Our members tell us that some of their most valuable conversations have been held in the early stages of meetings, before the official start times, as well as in the engine room discussions.

2. Make your name and the organisation that you represent obvious

Whether you are face-to-face networking or in virtual meetings there are ways to exchange your contact details. Your full name and organisation can be mentioned at the start AND end of your 60 second introduction. Take plenty of business cards or, if online, share your details in the Zoom chat and make sure your name/organisation is typed in the name box. This is especially important when there are visitors in the room.

3. Organise a sub if you are unable to attend a networking meeting

That you are unable to attend a meeting does not mean that you and your business should not be represented. This is a golden opportunity to invite either a sub from your own business or a guest from your wider network of contacts (provided that their ‘seat category’ is not represented within the group). It provides that contact a chance to experience the Sterling formula free of charge and introduce your fellow group members to foster new relationships, whilst also being a presence in the room to represent your business in your absence. It’s a win-win situation.

4. Prepare

Whether you are new to networking or you are a seasoned networker, there is no doubt that being well-prepared for meetings and events gives a great boost to confidence and allows you to gain the greatest value from your networking. Take ample business cards to the meeting or event. Preparation of your 60 second introductions, member presentations and education slots will help your audience to understand the nature of your business, support you with who you want to connect with and reinforce your credibility in your field of expertise.

5. Understand there is value in EVERY connection

Whilst some business sectors form natural referral relationships with one another and make for good ‘referral teams’, the greatest opportunities to build wider networks and to support business growth are to be had in looking beyond the ‘obvious’ connections. There is value to be had in investing time in building trusted relationships with fellow members and delving into a deeper understanding of their career paths, external interests and other networks, whatever their industry or sector.

6. Make notes

This seems such a basic tip, however note-taking is the hallmark of a good networker. The canny networker will look out for opportunities to provide referrals for others, to take details of events, identify contacts you want to meet and of course, to make note of those all-important 1 to 1s booked as a result of the meeting. If you expect others to support you through your networking then you should be equally attentive, in fact more-so.

7. Follow up connections and referrals

Having made the commitment to attend networking meetings, Expos or 1 to 1s, be certain to show good etiquette and follow up any leads or referrals as promptly as possible, acknowledging the source of the referral. Connections on LinkedIn (always with an accompanying message) and supporting fellow businesses through some other social media platforms are also quick and easy ways to start building a relationship.

8. Organise 1 to 1s

The spirit and essence of networking with Sterling encourages the fostering of trusted relationships through holding 1 to 1s.The foundation and success of networking is built on the philosophy that ‘people buy from people’ and by paving a way to a greater understanding of another’s business, and they of yours – you set up paths to business growth - maybe accessing new customers, creating collaborations or providing mutual support.

9. Use social media

Not everyone uses every social media platform, quite understandably. However opportunities abound to use social media as an extension of your networking and relationship-building. Whatever platform you use - insert the hashtag #SterlingBiz in the content of your social media posts at any time to share your business news and join in the conversations during our #SterlingBizHour Twitter networking hour between 1 to 2pm every Tuesday.

10. Make the most of your Sterling membership

When you join Sterling you become part of the ‘Sterling Family’, which now hosts 30 groups and extends across the Midlands, South West and Thames Valley.The ‘Member Zone’ Directory allows members to connect with each other beyond their own group membership. The free ‘Maximise’ training course, available to all members, is a great opportunity to help everyone get the most from their networking. Additionally, there are many free and paid-for marketing opportunities available through the Sterling Magazine and the extensive Sterling Expo series. Sterling HQ also keeps members up-to-date with weekly e-newsletters providing news and useful information. Sterling prides itself in supporting members to start conversations and build networks, whatever the platform.