Innovate UK’s ‘Essential business tips’ advises business owners on how to network and get maximum value from events – Before, During and Afterwards.
These lessons can be extremely useful if you’re thinking of launching a startup or already running your own small business.
Here are four tips to help you make the most of your precious time and resources:
Tip 1: Target events that match your business goals
Look for events that provide opportunities to meet people who can help you achieve your goals. Joyeeta Das, CEO of space technology company Gyana Ltd, advises business owners to identify the right events and the right people to meet.
She says: “You have to know who has the same vision, to try to align with them.”
Tip 2: Make connections before the event
When event organisers try to create a pre-event ‘buzz’ that gives off a sense of excitement and anticipation, make sure you get involved in the conversations.
Get a list of attendees and contact those you are interested in to request a quick chat – This makes key people aware of you and saves time on introductions on the day.
Matthew Stafford, co-founder of the 9others community of entrepreneurs, advises that personal relationships can be very important.
He says: “In this connection economy, it’s especially important to create and maintain ‘real’ relationships with people.”
Tip 3: Make the most of networking opportunities during the event
Be ready to listen first when you meet someone and also have a well-rehearsed ‘elevator pitch’ ready for when they ask you to tell them about your business. Make yourself visible to attendees and influencers through the use of event hashtags either via your smartphone and other social media assets.
Andrew Kent, senior innovation adviser at Enterprise Europe Network, stresses the importance of doing your homework beforehand.
He says: “Preparation for networking events is crucial to ensure you maximise your time and opportunities.”
Tip 4: Follow up with your new contacts
Maintain momentum with the people you have met with an email or a quick phone call – Discuss your participation at the event through social media, blogs, and forums.
This will increase your visibility and keep you on your contacts’ radar. Evaluate the event’s success against the goals you set and then begin searching and planning for your next event.
Alex Mauser, operations and development manager at Enterprise Europe Network, advises those looking to broaden their horizons: “Choose international events to explore target markets, expand your networks, and find out the latest developments in your sector.”