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How to have a successful networking meeting

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Business networking meetings are a great way to meet new contacts, clients and suppliers. By going regularly you can build up relationships with people and gain business directly and through referrals. You will also learn about events and other networking opportunities.
What you'll need: 
Your business cards
A small notebook and pen
Leaflets about your business
Your 'introduction speech
Introduce yourself to people. The aim of networking is to meet people. If you are new to a group it may seem everyone else knows each other, but they will be open to making new contacts. Just approach a person and say hello and may be even ask them to introduce you to others.
Ask people about themselves. People love to talk about their businesses and what they do, so the best way to start a conversation is to ask them about their business and their role.
Don't just focus on getting business. Although the prime reason for you being there is probably to get business, it's more important to make contacts. The person you are talking to might not be likely to buy from you, but they may know someone who would.
Introduce people. If you think you can refer some business to someone you meet, do so. There may not be anything in it for you but the person will certainly remember you in future and make an effort to repay the favour.
Introduction speech. At most networking meetings you will get an opportunity to say something about your self in about two minutes. It is best to prepare this before hand and focus on may be one or two aspects of your business. Try to make it interesting so people will remember you better.
Listening to Elevator speeches. As you listen to other's speeches there may be someone you highlight as being interesting to speak to. Note down their name and what drew your attention so you can approach them afterwards.
Relax and chat. Don't be too pushy when you are talking about your business. If someone wants to know more, they will ask you. Instead find out more about the person you are speaking to.
If you are stuck in a conversation you don't really want to be in, excuse yourself and say you need to get another coffee, talk to a particular person or even go to the toilet. You do need to make best use of the time spent and people understand that.
Do not expect to have orders after the first or second meeting. It takes time to build up relationships with people and you may not get any direct return on your time and money for 3-6 months.
When you have had an interesting conversation with someone, follow up with an email and an invitation to meet and talk further. Remember to say what you enjoyed about the conversation.
Networking can be a very good way to generate more business, and know what is going on in the business community. Over time you can build up relationships which generate business.
Be yourself - People buy from people.
Don't be afraid to say 'I'm new here, can you tell me more about...'
Focus on being helpful to others, and people will come to you.
Smile! A friendly face is always welcome.
Don't talk too much, listen to others.



Thank you, Penny, concise, interesting pointers. Will try and commit to memory at my next (first) networking meeting
Kindest regards

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