• Top networking secrets 
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Top networking secrets 

Networking is one of those things that some find easy, while others really struggle. But it's an absolutely crucial part of building your business - so here are Big Motoring World's top tips.

Don't be afraid to aim for the top

Today, thanks to social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, it's easier than ever to directly message people who were previously beyond the reach of most sales people. The key here is not to be generic, or overly-sales focused - keep your message brief, relevant and with a clear call to action. It's always great to get in touch with these people on the back of something else - for example after you've just seen them speak at a conference on a topic that interests you. The important thing is to try and establish a connection, quickly, with someone who is influential, but probably also pushed for time. Pitch your message accordingly.

Think about how you can help the people you meet, not the other way around

What will you give each person you meet while you're networking? We're not necessarily talking about anything physical here (they probably really don't need another branded stress ball for their event goody bag), but rather, what will they will gain from any kind of future business relationship with you? Instead of going into each interaction thinking 'this person could give me x amount towards my sales target', think 'I may have something concrete to offer this prospect – but first I'm going to do my best to find out what their needs are.' Networking events aren't a place to sell - they're somewhere to build relationships and to grow awareness of your brand.

Make sure it all ties together

Online or in person, there are now so many different ways for you to build your network of business connections - but one of the biggest challenges facing you is keeping the messages they all see consistent. When someone takes your card out after a networking event and looks you up on LinkedIn, will what they find reflect the experience they've just had with you face-to-face? What does the message you've just put on Twitter post-event tell the people you've met about your brand, and your products or services? A clear, consistent message matters - so make sure that everything you do ties together, whatever the channel.