10 tips for successful business networking in Australia

australia_and_new_zealand350_4f34a4a313fe6Australians are intrigued by New Zealand innovation and creativity, and are always ready to give a ‘fair go’ to anyone with the right product, right price and ability to deliver. It’s important to learn how to change the way you network from city to city. Just as the landscape varies from desserts to barrier reefs, so does Australian business culture. Penny Flynn, Chair of NZTE Beachheads Australia shares her top tips.

Compared to New Zealand, Australia is a pretty big place – both in landmass (it is the sixth largest country on the planet) and population (almost 24 million). For any Kiwi looking to break into the market, it can be a daunting place.

Still, despite the increased competition, there is also increased opportunity. Australians are intrigued by New Zealand innovation and creativity, and are always ready to give a ‘fair go’ to anyone with the right product, right price and ability to deliver.

So don’t be shy, get out there and spread the word about your business! A great way to do this is through networking. No matter how much we rely on email and phone, networking is still an essential part of business development and expanding your contact base.

Networking provides an opportunity for you to make connections from the people you know, to the people they know. The magic of numbers with your network and theirs is not to be underestimated!

 

Networking across Australia

It’s also important to learn how to change the way you network from city to city. Just as the landscape varies from desserts to barrier reefs, so does Australian business culture.

Without wanting to over generalise, here are a few differences I’ve noticed between Australia’s major cities:

Canberra – I was based here for a while. It is very multi-cultural and public-sector oriented because of the embassies and Australian parliament. There are more black-tie functions but also more opportunities to get involved in civic and community activities.

Brisbane – Having lived in Brisbane too, I can vouch for the fact that the business community is well connected here. There is an element of the ‘old school tie’. Getting to know some local business leaders and identities will serve you well.

Melbourne – This is a more formal and parochial place of business. Getting to know local business influencers and establishing trust is especially important.

Adelaide – A smaller city, Adelaide is also more about ‘who you know’. Take time to understand the big market players and be prepared to follow up with any made contacts to demonstrate your interest / commitment.

Perth – This is a vibrant city that has grown rapidly in recent years as a major global centre for energy resources. As a result, it is used to receiving many interstate and international business visitors.

Sydney – This place is big, sprawling and fast-paced. Sydney also has many sub-cultures such as sporting, social and cultural groups. Learn the sub-cultures your target audience is part of to find out what’s important to them and what makes them tick. This helps when networking and ultimately selling your product.

 

10 tips for networking

Networking isn’t just turning up at an event. It’s being prepared, engaged with the most importance placed on follow up. Here are my top 10 tips:

Before a networking event
- Research the guest speaker and their speaking topic. Do a quick search on the latest news regarding that speaker and the topic.
- Gain access to a list of invitees, if possible.
- Highlight who you want to meet. Prepare your opening. Can a colleague introduce you?

During the event
- State what you do when you introduce yourself.
- Take advantage of name tags to use names and introduce others.
- Have business cards accessible and give business cards consideration.
- Ask who, what, where, why, how questions.
- Avoid common conversation mistakes – telling too many details, insisting on one upmanship interrogating, seeking free advice, interrupting.

After the event
- Record details of new contacts.
- Diarise any actions and follow up on any commitments made.

Finally, if you need to leave a person or group, say something like, “I’ve enjoyed our chat, can I grab your business card before I leave?” Or, introduce a person to someone else or take them to join another group. Stay to get the conversation started before making your excuse to leave.

Happy networking!

For further details on networking, please refer to Penny Flynn’s presentation in the NZTE Marketing Toolkit.