Why networking is important for your business

Networking is one of the most effective methods of meeting new people and nurturing existing relationships in business, but not everyone is taking advantage of the opportunities around them. Here, our PR Account Manager, Rebecca Hart, looks at the many benefits of attending these corporate 'get-togethers'.

“I must admit, I haven’t always been a huge fan of networking. Believe it or not, although I really can talk to anyone, even for me walking into a room full of strangers with the intention of striking up a conversation with each (or at least most) of them can be quite daunting.

I haven’t attended a large number of networking events before. I remember the first time I did go to one, it was for the launch of a new group focusing on promoting the Wakefield region. After drumming up the courage to walk in, I stood quite shyly waiting to pinpoint a friendly face or someone that looked just as nervous as I did. Many were already deep in conversation, so I headed over to grab a drink and started chatting to a few people at the refreshments table, and after some polite chit chat I found it wasn’t as scary as I first thought.

After that I attended a couple more events and my confidence started to grow. I then found that each one got a little easier every time.

Fast forward a few years and last week I attended my first networking event since joining the Dragonfly PR Team. The Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce (BRCC) Means Business Exhibition took place on 6th September at the Rotherham United football stadium, which I thought was a fantastic venue. The aim of the event was for exhibitors to showcase their products and services to others in the region and for hundreds of people to network, share ideas and do business together.

Although it has been a while since I last ‘networked’, I was quite surprised at how easy I found it to get back into the swing of things. Meeting new people, swapping business cards, chatting about our different sectors and just generally having some good old conversation, was quite enjoyable. After making a few new connections, I left feeling accomplished and I started thinking; I really should do this more often. Here’s why:

Building new relationships

The whole point of networking is to create new relationships with business owners and professionals from a variety of industries and backgrounds. These people will hold skills that you may potentially require at one time during your career.

For example, I met a couple of people in IT and branding at the BRCC event, great when working in PR, especially for construction or manufacturing. After all, everyone needs IT assistance and will definitely require some merchandise for their business at some point, so these were good contacts for me to get to know as they will certainly come in handy for clients in the future.

I swapped business cards and in order to ensure that I kept in touch after leaving the event, I added both contacts (and others that I met during the afternoon) on LinkedIn as soon as I got back in the office. However, rather than just sending a request to connect, I sent each one a message thanking them for their time, making reference to something we had chatted about, and a reminder of the services we offer at Dragonfly PR. Simple, yet effective as each one came back and the conversation carried on.

It’s a great marketing tool and you may secure new clients

In addition to building new relationships with other professionals that you can work with, networking is also one of the best ways to meet people that you can work for. These events often have a few opportunities to secure new clients, particularly if it is a mixed sector/regional one.

By networking, you are essentially advertising to a room full of potential customers. By having a conversation with them you can determine if they have a need for your business or services.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time people are interested to find out what you do and why you’re there, but they don’t want you to be trying to sell them something all of the time. A general conversation that includes a little about your services however, may get them thinking about how they can be of benefit to them. Add in at the end that you’re happy to meet for a coffee to chat about it further if they’re interested, swap business cards and leave it there.

Again, be sure to connect on LinkedIn, follow their business on Twitter or even drop them a quick email the next day to develop the relationship further. If they do want to take you up on that offer of coffee, it’s easier for them to get in touch.

If you’re a director, owner or professional with a drive for meeting new people and drumming up new business, networking should be on your to do list. As for me, I’ll be taking part in the Dearne Valley Networking Group in October, drop me a line on LinkedIn if you’d like to come along.”

Dragonfly PR is experienced in arranging a variety of company, regional and sector specific events; so if you’re interested in setting up your own networking event and require support in doing so, give us a call.

Alternatively, if you’re attending an event and would like to speak to a member of our team about help with designing your marketing materials such as leaflets, brochures and business cards, contact us on 01709300130 or email hello@dragonflypr.co.uk.

Dragonfly PR is South Yorkshire based public relations agency that specialises in B2B PR and has expertise in the manufacturing, construction and b2b sectors. For examples of our previous work, visit http://dragonflypr.co.uk/casestudy.

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