I love the fact I can work from home and please myself about where and when I work, it has some definate advantages.
Of course it also has it’s downsides, so let’s talk about how you can overcome one of them, and at the same time promote your business.

Running your own business can be a very lonely existence. Working for yourself, by yourself can be isolating, and can keep you stuck in a mindset that may not be the best for you or your business.

So it’s important to get out of the house and out of your own head from time to time.

That’s why, even though I do most of my business on-line these days, I still like to get out and attend Networking Events occasionally.

It not only combats the isolation, and the feeling that I’m “fused” to my laptop, but it also helps me to see beyond the end of my own nose!!

Mingling with other business owners or attending events to listen to other speakers, feeds me with fresh perspectives and ideas, and almost always gives me a boost of motivation and energy.

Yet I know for many of you networking events are more than just a little bit scary, and some of you have even had some not so good experiences that have put you off attending events.

So I thought I would share with you some of my tips for how to get the best from networking events.

1. Be Selective – Attend the right events
There are all kinds of different networking events available. Some are formal and structured, and are aimed at B2B networking; some are more relaxed with fewer requirements around membership; others can be more focused around the opportunity to hear from expert speakers; and there are all kinds of “one-off” events or conferences where you get to hear from a variety of speakers and have networking time.

Your Niche and your own personal and business development needs will determine which are right for you.

So do some research before you choose which events to attend. Networking can be a very cost effective way to attract potential clients, but there is no sense in paying hefty membership fees to a group which does not have your target clients among its membership.

2. Go with a Purpose
Be focused on why you want to attend a particular event and what you want to get out if it. Do you want to learn something from the speaker(s)? Do you want to be introduced to, or connect with someone in particular? Are you looking for an opportunity to speak at a future event?

If you know in advance of attending the event what you want to get out of it, then you will be less likely to waste your time wandering around a room aimlessly, or worse still, sitting like a wallflower in the corner, getting nothing out of it at all

3. Be Prepared
This follows on nicely from the previous tip. If you want to pick up some tips, or learn something from the speaker, take something to capture your notes (my iPad goes everywhere with me)

If there is an opportunity to ask questions of an expert in a particular field that you want to learn from, prepare your questions in advance.

If you can, try to get hold of the delegate list ahead of the event and work out who you want to speak to, or be introduced to. And don’t be afraid to ask the event Host to introduce you to that person, or to someone else they feel would be good for you to meet.

Make sure you take a good supply of your Business Cards, but see below – don’t just hand them out willy-nilly.

[bctt tweet=”Perfect Your Elevator Pitch and Network like a Pro”]

This next one is a biggie, and it’s where so many people, even seasoned networkers get it horribly wrong. Take the time to craft and practice your Elevator Pitch until you can deliver it with confidence – practice in the mirror or with friends if you need to.
If you have the opportunity to make a short presentation, make sure you have practised it until you are very comfortable and confident delivering it

4. Be Curious
Please do NOT be the really irritating kind of person who goes to events, and just wanders around the room interrupting others’ conversations so they can thrust their business card in your hand and launch into their sales pitch – aargh!!!

Networking is about Connecting with people. It’s about building relationships, rapport and connections. So ask questions of others first – and listen to the answers! Show an interest in what they do and then explore how you could help each other

5. Follow Up
Now there really isn’t much point in spending time meeting people and making an initial connection, or learning new ideas or tips, and then not following up or implementing.

It is easy to leave an event full of enthusiasm and with lots of ideas and opportunities, and then get back to the daily grind and forget to do anything with any of it. Plan time in after the event to allow you to implement anything you learn, and leave some space in your diary to make follow up phone calls and book in appointments with people you meet to further develop a relationship with them.

And finally, have fun!

The more events you go to, the more confident you will become and the more benefits you will see in your business. You never know, you may even develop a desire to be the speaker at an event, and showcase your expertise!