Put an end to your networking nightmares

From Jade McAuley, Rebel Marketing
This is going to show my age, but I’ve been going to business networking events for over 10 years. Starting off, I was completely out of my comfort zone but my marketing instincts could tell that networking was the way to go. And I was right, thank you very much.
I believe one of the reasons I’ve been able to establish three new businesses within two years was because of my contact network. So let me tell you how to turn networking from your worst nightmare into the marketing channel of your dreams!

Face-to-face comes first
Nothing beats face-to-face contact, it is the richest form of communication you can have with another person. If you’re trying to capture the attention of time-poor business owners who are constantly being smashed with advertising material every moment in and out of the office, networking is an excellent place to start. When you talk to someone in person once, they can start to get a feel for your personality and values. The more times you see them, the more familiar you become with each other and a relationship starts to form.
With no phones ringing or emails popping up to distract them, you can honestly get to know each other – and see whether you’d be interested in doing business together too.

Bring the façade down
Holy dooley, I’m sure there are not many people out there who have such horrid personalities that they have to resort to putting on a fake one at networking events – yet many do. I think this is probably just a confidence thing, but trust me – you will gain so much more confidence when you honestly be yourself and see how others respond to you. Not everyone will like your views or how you do business – that’s cool, you can’t work with everyone. At least you will have their respect for being genuine.
The worst thing about that phoney face that people sometimes stick on, is that it can be really difficult to talk to them about anything with substance. Therefore, no real relationship develops and nothing comes from the time and money you put into attending in the first place.

Help me to help you
This could just be me, so feel free to ignore this one if it doesn’t sound right for you – but the reason I got into business was to help other people. I think it’s a pretty common theme in business owners so read on if it applies to you.
My most super successful networking tip ever is to put yourself last. I LOVE getting to know people’s stories – why they started in business, what do they like about what they do, what do they find challenging etc. Talk to people about their dreams and passions, and maybe even offer a little advice from your own experience. It shows the other person that you’re genuinely interested in what they’re trying to achieve, and happy to help if you can.
I didn’t realise it for ages but this is something that has never failed to make me memorable when I attend networking events. Or it could be how dorky and daggy I am. Actually it’s probably that.