The autumn months have seen the Cicada team out and about at networking events across the Harrogate district.

These have included the monthly Harrogate Chamber of Commerce meeting, the Harrogate Business Lunch (held three times a year) and Harrogate Live, a gathering held on the last Thursday of every month.

Coming up, we will be at Bettys’ Christmas networking (yum!) and many other festive themed events in Yorkshire as the year draws to a close.

But how best to make the most of such networking opportunities when time is limited and other work and home commitments beckon?

Here are our top tips for meeting new contacts and staying in touch while networking:

• Homework
Take some time to research which networking events are right for you. Be selective, you can’t attend all of them. Some events list who’s attending which can help give you a steer. Make a list of your preferred networking and where possible, stick to turning up!

• Take a friend
If you’re new to networking, go with a colleague or a friend. But don’t stay together while you’re there. Split up and work the room separately. You won’t get to speak with everyone but try to make two to three new contacts on the day.

• Be prepared
Have your elevator pitch ready when someone asks: ‘What do you do?’ A brief summary of your company and role will suffice. Exchange business cards – make sure you take plenty with you.

• Smile
Be friendly and welcoming. Interrogating and being overly salesy will put people off. Take the time to engage and show you’re interested in them and their business.

• Follow up
Make contact a day or two later with the people you’ve met. It’s a useful way to remind them of what you do and how you may be able to help them. Where appropriate, stay in touch and make arrangements to meet them again at the next networking do.

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