Attending networking events is a great way to earn referrals, build community, and increase the exposure to your business.
Make the most of every networking event by following these tips.
Top 10 Tips for Savvy Networkers:
- Be Prepared. Have your networking tools with you at all times. This would include: an ample supply of business cards, your name badge, any collateral material (flyers, brochures, etc), and your personal commercial (often referred to as your elevator speech).
- Arrive early. When you arrive early and you have your business cards readily available you can relax and focus on learning about the other people in the room. You can pause to calmly gather your thoughts and your intentions so that your time spent networking will be of benefit to you and your goals. Preparation goes a long way in making you appear to be someone that other people will want to get to know and you will be judged by others, like it or not, based on their first impression of you.
- Have a plan. Have an idea of what your goal is for each event you attend. Know, before going in, what the outcome is that you want for yourself or for the people you meet at each event. Do you want to meet 3 people and focus on getting to know them really well? Are you looking for an introduction to a certain type of client? Are you looking for information or connections that will get you that information? When you have a plan, it is easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome.
- Be a Giver and/or a Connector. When you focus on “giving” and being helpful to others, the “getting” will come later … and it will come in unexpected ways. Act like a host at every event you attend by connecting people. This can be a simple act of introducing 2 people to each other or as elaborate as giving a testimonial about 1 person and their services to the entire group. All of these acts allow you to focus on the “other” and grows your social capital in the room.
- Leave your troubles behind. Put on a happy face at the door and remind yourself that it is “show time.” People will look forward to seeing you and meeting you if you are energetic, positive, and outgoing. Do not burden or bore people with your troubles or your problems. Everyone has enough of their own, and, trust me on this, they do not need or want to hear about yours.
- Listen with focus. When someone is speaking with you, give that person your entire focus. LISTEN. Really hear what the person is saying. Keep your eyes and ears focused and keep your self talk and thoughts focused too. The greatest gift that you can give to another person is to truly hear what that person is saying.
- Be Genuine. Be genuine in your interactions with others at an event. Again, it comes back to building trust, to building “brand YOU.” There is a huge difference between being INTERESTED and in trying to be INTERESTING. When you are interested in learning about someone and their business entirely for the sake of learning about the other person, you will leave a lasting impression as someone who genuinely cares. On the other hand, when you are interested only so that you can take what you learn and then use it to make yourself or your products interesting to this person … well, my friend, you have slipped into the category of “scorched earth networking” and it is not a good place to be.
- Do Teach/Don’t Sell. The Savvy Networker knows that the immediate sale of a product is not the goal in networking: Networking is about building relationships with people who will be happy to tell others about who you are and what you do. At every opportunity, teach others about who you are, as a person, and what it is that you do. Always present a clear emphasis on the type of client that you are looking for. In doing this, you will be building a sales force that can reach far wider than you can on your own.
- Follow up. After the event, send a thank you card to each person that you had direct contact with. Mention something from your discussion in the thank you card (it helps if you jot notes on the back of each person’s business card that you collect). If there is a referral that you can supply to someone you’ve just met, include that in the follow-up note. Since so many people fail to follow up, you can really stand out by just doing this simple act of reaching out to remind someone of who you are and what you do … and that you are interested in exploring a relationship.
- Follow up some more! Depending on where you look, marketing statistics state that it takes 7 to 12 impressions for a consumer to make a buying decision. It also takes somewhere between 5 to 12 impressions for a brand awareness to become “top of mind.” Meeting face-to-face is the 1st impression. A thank you card would be a second impression. An email, a phone call, another card, a lunch date … don’t stop after 1 or 2 impressions. Keep going. Savvy Networkers know that to build strong relationships they must dig deeper and make the continued effort to reach out and learn more about others.
You can find more practical business networking tips for Entrepreneurs, Small Business Owners, and Corporate Professionals at TheSavvyNetworker.com.