How to get the most out of your networking
Networking events are critical for building your business resources. They are helpful in bringing in leads, generating sales, helping you grow your network, and helping you stay connected to what’s going on in your city at any given moment.
I attend many networking tips as a way to build my personal network, so I thought I’d share some helpful tips that I do, hopefully helping you to maximize your networking experience.
1. Walk in, be friendly, thank the host.
When arriving, it’s always great to be in a good mood, make a friendly comment or joke to the staff that helps check you into the event. After you enter an event, it’s a good idea to thank you host for putting on the event. They will likely introduce you to people you should meet and this will help you start the night off right.
2. Listen and give value first, explain what you do second.
People do like to talk about what interests them. So be interested in them. The more you’re interested in them, the more they will like you naturally. The more you are likeable, the easier it is to direct a conversation to where you want it to go. Have you ever been in a situation where the first question another person asks when they meet you is ‘What do you do?’ This can cause a conversation to fall flat quickly because people don’t like to give up personal information to people they don’t know. You can get people to open up by giving them value. Value can take many forms, for instance, I tend to tell people an interesting story, or tell people about interesting current events.
3. Keep your business cards handy.
You never know when you’ll need them. Often times the window for giving your business card to someone at the perfect time can close very quickly. You want to make sure you have one ready just in case someone that is a valuable connection needs to leave the conversation in a hurry.
4. Introduce two people.
Introducing people is a very powerful way to solidify your connection to them. If you are able to help two people connect over business, they will feel as though owe you one. This gives you access to far more than you may imagine. You may even make instant friends or sometimes those people may want you involved in their new business partnership you facilitated.
5. Take notes.
Remember to listen to people well. Who they are, what they do, why they do it. Write some quick notes about the person on the back of their business card after they hand it to you so that when you follow up with them later, you won’t forget it.
6. Pick a good location.
There are high traffic areas at events. You can position yourself near or around areas where lots of people are moving in and out of the area and this will increase the likelihood you’ll get into a conversation. Essentially the crowd will come to you, and it makes networking much easier and faster than if you were standing by yourself in a low traffic area.
7. Follow up immediately after the event.
There tends to be a window of 48 hours for networking follow-ups. 48 hours after the event, following up with someone you met at an event, has diminishing returns. After a week passes, the chances that someone will respond to you contacting them become very slim. If you know you’ll be too busy to follow up with all of the leads you’ve received business cards from, prioritize first. Only respond to leads that are most valueable to you. You can hire a virtual assistant or personal assistant to follow up with all of your other leads if you’re otherwise pressed for time for follow-ups.