Boost your Bangkok networking opportunities
There are several organisations who offer networking opportunities to their members however unless the local group has dynamic leadership and is sustaining rapid growth is it worth making the investment, not only in the membership fees but also your time? I have found that with many Bangkok networking groups you tend to meet the same people each week. Sustaining a constant flow of new faces has proved difficult for many event organisers in Thailand. Whilst I’ve personally always generated business which exceeded my outlay from these networking organisations, I’ve found that a focused approached to Bangkok networking is more likely to reap its rewards.
Effective networking is a fantastic way of meeting new prospective customers however so many people get it wrong and as a result feel that it is not a successful method for them. With a targeted approach, networking can produce good results for any business in Thailand. If you are invited to a Bangkok networking event then there are some rules that will make your attendance more worthwhile.
Firstly, speak with the organiser to get a list of the attendees and find out the structure of the event – is there an opportunity to network beforehand with the other Thai business owners? There are likely to be only a few on the list who it would be beneficial for you to meet, if you can’t identify anyone then don’t waste your time attending that particular meeting – There’ll be others. Do your research on your target contacts beforehand. Good selling is not just a case of rattling off a prepared script it’s as much about what happens before and after you speak to the prospect. Work out your approach and what you want to say before the event.
There is usually a table with name badges on when you arrive at the event. Have a look to see if your targets name badge has been already taken. If you don’t know what your target looks like, speak to the organiser and ask to be introduced. It is best to get someone to make an introduction rather than to hover whilst your target is in conversation with someone else. There is always the danger that someone will come up to you and engage in meaningless conversation whilst you are waiting for your target to finish – and you may lose a valuable opportunity.
You drive the initial contact and keep it short and to the point. Exchange business cards and briefly explain why you feel it would be beneficial to meet up with them at a later date to discuss your business in Thailand. Agree when is the best time to contact them and make your exit. You are not there to get involved in awkward chit chat so by keeping it brief and to the point and agreeing to contact at a more convenient time will leave your target with a good impression of you. Follow this process with all the individuals you want to meet at the event then leave. You can arrange potential meetings with all your targeted contacts inside thirty minutes and get away before the formal event starts unless of course you particularly want to hang around. If you have agreed a time to contact in the next few days then make sure that you call at the allotted time.
If there is a buffet don’t eat until you have finished your networking, better still eat after the event – the food isn’t usually up to much anyway. First impressions are important and it is virtually impossible to hold a meaningful conversation between mouthfuls of sandwich whilst creating a good impression. Balancing a drink in one hand, a plate of food in the other and trying to shake someone’s hand at the same time as giving them your business card is a skill that has yet to be mastered.
Finding networking events in your area should not prove too difficult and it maybe worthwhile approaching the local Chamber of Commerce about forthcoming meetings that they may be aware of. Your bank manager should also be aware of networking opportunities in your area. Don’t be put off by past experiences or apprehension – give networking a go and if you follow these simple steps then you maybe pleasantly surprised by the results and the new business it generates for you.
Head of Franchising
Lloyds Banking Group
Tel: 07802 324018
Richard heads up the Lloyds Bank franchise team and is a regular contributor to trade publications and national press. He regularly speaks at franchise seminars and exhibitions.