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bloody mary stirrersNetworking is a great way to meet potential customers and there are probably several networking meetings taking place near you – but as a creative maker, how do you get the most out of them?

My blog this week covers 4 tips to help ensure networking works for you.

1. Get your stuff together

I've been to lots of networking events, struck up conversation with someone about their business, asked for a card and they have said "Oh I'm really sorry I forgot them!" It is easy to do and lots of people do it so make doubly sure that you have a good stock of your cards, leaflets or flyers in your bag.

2. Practice
When it comes to the crunch and you are standing next to someone who says "tell me about your business" it can be very easy to mumble, look at your feet and mutter something about making stuff. The glare of all those business coaches and accountants can sometimes make creative types feel about awkward when talking about their business, so practice it first.

3. Products – to take or not to take?
A lot of makers are not really sure if it is appropriate to take their products along to a meeting. I think it depends on the meeting! If it is a standing up and mingling type networking event I'd advise not taking products but being really thorough about your follow up. If it is a round table meeting where everyone gets an opportunity to speak I'd definitely take along some examples of your work and hand them round for people to look at.

4. Follow up
It is all too easy to go to networking, have some great discussions, get lots of business cards and then do nothing with them. Make sure you follow up each person you speak with, send them an email, a link to your website and add them to your mailing list. I've found that this often results in orders being placed on the same day.

I hope that's helpful, let me know how you get on.