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  • Susie Slack-Smith

THE ART OF NETWORKING: TECHNIQUES FOR BECOMING A GREAT NETWORKER

Leading a business can be hard work. But the good news is that you're not the only founder, owner-manager or CEO who's treading this path. Networking with your peers is a great way to make connections with other entrepreneurs, while also looking for new business opportunities.



5 ways to improve your networking skills

Being part of a wide network of entrepreneurs and business leaders is about being part of the business community. It’s about giving to the community, as well as being supported by it – and knowing that you’re surrounded by other entrepreneurs who share very similar goals.


So, networking is a valuable thing to take part in, whether you’re a brand new founder, or a seasoned business owner who’s been around the track a few times. But how do you get GOOD at networking? There’s no simple answer to this, but we’ve highlighted five key things you can do to get more from your networking and to give more back to your community.


To become a better networker:

- Be authentic and relational – if you’re going to make a success of networking, it naturally makes sense to appeal to people. Being genuine and interested in getting to know your peers will help a lot. Be yourself, be friendly and take the time to learn about the people you meet. Ask questions about their work, their interests, their goals and what generally makes them tick. This isn’t just about ‘doing business’, remember; it’s about getting to know people as people, and being part of this community.


- Be a good listener and ask thoughtful questions – in networking, listening is just as important as talking. When you're talking to someone, listen intently, look people in the eye and pay real attention. Resist the temptation to interrupt or start thinking about what you're going to say next. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and asking thoughtful questions. Ultimately, you want to make it clear that you’re interested in what this person has to say, and that you’ve found some common ground together.


- Be helpful and offer your expertise – one of the best ways to build relationships is to be an asset to your industry community. Look for ways to use your experience and skills, and offer ideas, advice and help (if people are looking for assistance). This could mean sharing your industry knowledge, providing resources, or making introductions to other people in your network. When you help others, you help the community, underline that you’re a valuable resource and that you’re interested in building relationships.


- Be an asset to your niche/sector/industry – share new ideas, drive innovation and be a voice that stands out in the network. If you want to make an impact, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. A good approach is to be someone who’s known for their expertise, creativity and thought leadership. Get involved in industry discussions, and write articles and blog posts about the big issues in your sector. The more you contribute to your niche/sector/industry, the faster your star will rise.


- Follow up after networking events – getting the networking right is one thing, but it’s important to also get your follow-ups right too. Get people’s business cards, phone numbers or emails and get in touch after the event to touch base. A quick email or LinkedIn message could well be the start of a blossoming new business relationship or friendship. It’s also a good idea to connect on social media and to comment, share and repost your new contact’s posts.


What are the best places for networking?

- Industry-specific events and conferences – industry events are great places to rub shoulders with other professionals in your field. You can get involved in discussions, learn about the latest trends and developments and even present your own sessions.


- Social media platforms – you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to social media sites to help your industry networking. LinkedIn, X(Twitter), Facebook, Threads and BlueSky all help you connect with the people you’ve met through your networking, and build on those relationships to share your insights and ideas more widely.


- Local meetups and workshops – most cities and towns will have regular business meetups and workshops that you can dip into. Business breakfast events and evening get-togethers are a great way to meet local business owners and to find out what’s going on in your local community.


If you’re looking to raise your profile and improve your networking, we’d love to lend a helping hand. We’re connected to hundreds of different business owners and leaders – and we’re more than happy to introduce you.

Our advice is to put yourself out there in your industry community, track down your local business peers and get busy with your content marketing and social media posts.

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