It’s Good to Stay Connected 16 March, 2012 | EDGE Insights | 3 min read. Networking is essential for building new business opportunities and relationships. It is invaluable what you can learn and achieve by meeting like minded professionals and finding out how you can support one another’s objectives. Mark Panayides from Obsidian Business Investments is a key connector and pointedly understands the values of a good networking event. He now regularly runs his own elite events, bringing professionals together from industries all over. We sat down with Mark to find out more about how he has come to run his own events and how to become a good networker. How did you first become interested in networking and how did you start? It all began when I got together with a group of my friends to see if we could help each other with recommendations or referrals. We figured that one of our biggest assets were the people that we knew and had already built working relationships with. We wanted to share our network with each other in order to explore new business opportunities. How do you identify what will constitute a good event? I always consider the reputation of the organisers. If an event has been recommended to me by a friend or business partner I would be inclined to attend on their merit. I also like to know what kind of connections the organisers have, as if it will be an event of benefit to me I like to be able to do my research beforehand and go in prepared. be genuinely interested in people, try and give something first and to do what you say you will do At an event do you let yourself be yourself or do you wear your ‘corporate’ hat? I will be myself. I think it’s incredibly important to be genuine. If you try too hard or put across too much corporate bravado you risk alienating potential contacts. By being yourself you can guarantee the contacts you make will be much more useful and built upon in the future. What do you think a person/business can gain from networking? You can gain a great deal from networking both as an individual and a business. The key aspects that have encouraged me to be a regular networker are personal growth, building better relationships, enhancing brand awareness and essentially, more business. What would be your top 3 tips for being a savvy networker? My top three tips that I am a great believer in would be: to be genuinely interested in people to try and give something first and to do what you say you will do; It’s all about building trust and delivering what you say you will. What would be a big no-no in networking and what would put you off someone? You have to remember in networking it’s a two way street and you very much get out of it what you put in. The worst thing you could do at an event would be to not listen to what others have to say or not pay attention to the people around you. A big no-no for me is being presented with a poor business card. I think people underestimate the power of a good business card. It should be a strong representation of you and your brand and make people remember you. If you have taken time and care for a seemingly small detail like your business card, to me that shows that you will take that time and care for your business also and that you care about how you are represented in the market. What would be the most memorable event that you have attended or held? The most memorable events that I organised have been The Business Awards. Asides from being great evenings they have been fantastic for high quality networking and it’s great to know you have people talking about your event! Why did you decide to begin running your own events? I’ve always enjoyed networking as an integral part of my business and through my experience, I decided that I wanted to be the driving force to get people from varying industries together to ultimately enhance their businesses. By running my own events I can obtain the quality and type of people I want to network with. What would be the biggest thing you have learnt from your networking experience? You must remember that you are representing your brand. It gives you the opportunity to show people that you are a person they can trust, relies on and ultimately do business with repeatedly. To organise your event, whether for promotional needs or primarily for networking, speak to the team now to find out more about our services, call 0121 355 8092 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Join our dedicated networking EDGE Elite networking group for more information.