Networking is a crucial marketing tool, it is a great way to develop mutually beneficial relationships with like minded professionals. Networking can occur in a variety of settings: from face-to-face business conferences, to luncheons, coffee, or afterwork drinks meetings. There are also several online networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIm, Houzz and more. Networking is extremely important to interior design professionals as it has the ability to open doors to new opportunities. Interacting with the right people can earn you referrals, advise, and even create awareness of your company. It is a great way to gain credibility, trust and professional reputation. So what are the Do’s and Don’ts of networking? Find them below:
- Get familiar – Familiarize yourself with the event and the companies who will be attending.
- Name Tag – Wear it on your right side, as it is naturally the first place the viewer will look.
- Set Objectives – Such as how many people you would like to approach, what kind of information you’d like to learn or obtain, as well as the points you’d like to convey about yourself and the company.
- Wear your best attitude – Don’t be afraid to say hello to people around you, everyone is on the same boat. Be approachable and engaging.
- Prepare and use an “Elevator Pitch” – Be accurate, concise and to the point, you want to make sure you engage your listener from the get-go and keep them interested all along.
- Business cards – Bring more than enough with you as they are a great way to exchange contact information. If possible, write a brief note on the back about where and when you met as a reminder.
- Listen and learn – There is much we can learn from other’s experiences, this is a valuable lesson in life and in business.
- Be Patient – Networking is developing strong, long-standing business relationships.
- Be prepared – Anticipate the kind of people you are likely to meet and have in mind questions to ask them related to the information you’d like to obtain.
- Follow up – Create a mailing list and make contact with the people you’ve met on a monthly basis.
- Don’t be late. It creates distraction from the entire event if you walk in late, and people may remember it and not in a positive way.
- Don’t be shy Do not only talk to the people you already know. Networking is precisely to meet new people.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – All questions are valid. Everyone is scared of appearing ignorant but there’s no need. The majority of people will be happy to share their knowledge and expertise, so take advantage and ask as many questions as you can.
- Do not cross your arms – Body language can be very powerful. Crossing your arms makes you look unapproachable.
- Avoid self-promotion – This method is more likely to be perceived as negative than build valuable relationships. Be humble and open.
- Don’t forget to follow up – This is so important, we’re saying it twice.
- Don’t drink too much – Especially at the more informal meet-ups, if they are serving alcohol try to avoid it.