HandshakeThe ability to develop a contacts book can lead to various opportunities. David Wright, marketing director for leading football events company Soccerex, explains how you can enhance your networking skills.
 

Tip 1: Utilise industry events

Attending conferences themed around your career is all well and good, but be sure to enter into them with a clearly thought out plan.
 
"Events are great ways of making new contacts and developing existing relationships within sport, but you have to approach them properly," Wright says. "Be proactive in arranging meetings before the event and make sure you sign up for relevant networking sessions - you might not meet the contact you are after directly, but you put yourself in a better position to be introduced to them."
 

Tip 2: Be a night owl

The day's seminars and presentations may be over, but this doesn't end the opportunities to make new contacts at events.
 
Wright says: "Sport is a pretty sociable industry, so be prepared to carry on networking into the evening at events - it is often where some of the best contacts are made!"
 

Tip 3: Build on initial contact

People will often be flooded with business cards at industry events. Make sure you are remembered by following up on that initial meeting.
 
"Event follow-ups are essential when developing your contacts," Wright says. "A quick hello and card exchange will have much more impact if it is followed up while the meeting is fresh in their mind, even if there isn't anything specific to follow up about."
 

Tip 4: Maintain the relationship

Productive business relationships are built through regular dialogue, not fleeting exchanges.
 
"Stay in contact - don't let relationships go cold and make the effort to stay in touch," Wright says.
 

Tip 5: Build your social network

The wide variety of social networks provide an ideal way to maintain relationships with contacts. Use them to your advantage.
 
"The likes of LinkedIn and Facebook are great ways to build and keep in touch with a network of industry contacts," Wright says. "Use the networks of your existing contacts to expand yours and join sports industry groups like the Soccerex Network."
 

Top Tip: Face to face is best

Wright adds: "While a call, email or contact through a social networking site is okay, meeting face to face is the best way to build relations in the sports industry. At the end of the day making contacts is only part of the equation; the actual relationships help you to get ahead in the industry and these need time and effort invested into them."
 
 

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