As the world reopens, networking is one of the key areas that business owners will start to refocus. will start to refocus. Yet for smaller businesses, and those who have set up during lockdown, networking can be a minefield. Cosalea is one of Bury’s newest café and business venues, and we’ve put together a guide to help you prepare for your first networking experiences.
If the thought of networking strikes fear into your very heart, then rest assured, you don’t have to fake being an extrovert to do it well.
The first thing to remember is that creating the right network is not necessarily about maintaining a large expansive list of contacts or ‘schmoozing’. It’s entirely possible to raise your professional profile and broaden your access to opportunities on a more informal basis while still assisting and connecting with others.
So, if you’re new to networking then these pointers will help you get started and feel less daunted at the same time:
How to Engage with Others
First things first-your outfit! It stands to reason that this can give you a huge confidence boost. Wearing a conversation piece-nothing too wacky-but certainly an eye-catching item such as an unusual brooch – can help break the ice. Next – let people talk! People do love to talk-often about themselves- and it’s also a great chance for you. Ask questions, listen, let them speak and in return you can expect they will do the same for you, making stronger connections in the long term.
Discover New Ideas
Don’t lose sight of the fact that ultimately you will benefit here. Exchanging information around challenges, experiences and goals will reap dividends because it will allow you to gain new insights that you may not otherwise have thought of.
And remember, even if you consider yourself a novice, your experience to date means you are still in a position to offer useful ideas to a contact, which is an excellent way to build your reputation as an expert in your field.
Seize the Moment!
If you’re keen to establish a relationship with a contact then it’s advisable to email them within 48 hours of your first meeting. Better still is to consider sending them a personalised note with your business card or a sample of your product. The personal touch can give you an advantage particularly if they themselves happen to have attended a networking conference with hundreds of participants. This way you will be memorable for all the right reasons!
Your message could convey how much you enjoyed meeting them as well as an invitation to meet again to chat further.
Build long-lasting relationships
Some of the strongest and most enduring friendships have developed from work connections. Maybe it’s not so surprising-after all, your networking connections are probably like-minded people with similar goals to you, so it’s not unrealistic to assume that your professional support network could easily carry over into your personal friendships.
So there you have it; taking the time to build relationships and foster connections will pay off in the long run. As with most things, when it comes to networking, you get back what you put in. And going forward your confidence will grow-along with your business.
Find a great venue
With networking, a great venue plays a key role in the success of the event. Consider this when deciding on which networking groups to attend. Somewhere warm, friendly and with plenty of natural light is crucial here. In these challenging times, make sure the space is airy and big enough to facilitate social distancing. In addition, think about catering. Great coffee and cake is an absolute must for any networking event!
Cosalea is a brand new café and creative space in Bury. With a bright, spacious café area and multi-use function and event room we’re a social hub right at the heart of the community and we’re passionate about using locally sourced produce and offer hearty breakfasts, nutritious lunches and sumptuous homemade cakes, alongside our extensive drinks range including Segafredo coffees and refreshing Coca Cola brand soft drinks.
Far more than simply a café, our event room is an additional space away from the main café offering a versatile space for business meetings and functions, training sessions and events.