Professionals, entrepreneurs and company owners who network are often well-connected centers of influence. In fact many credit networking with how they met their most valuable resources, referral partners and new clients and they happily share their network with people just like you.
These 17 tips will help you easily navigate and get more results at your next networking event.
#1 Know Before You Go
It’s not enough to just show up at the event. Know why your’re going and who you’re looking to meet. Know the event structure, attendee demographics and purpose before you go. Do you want to attend an event with a speaker? Do you prefer a luncheon where you talk to a few people around you? Are you looking for a lot of open networking time? Attend events that meet your objective and attract the people, or those connected to the people, you want to meet.
#2 Be Authentic
People want to get to know you, not just your business or company. Don’t be shy about sharing your personal hobbies or weekend plans. Just don’t overshare.
#3 Business Cards
Have them at the ready and where you can easily access them. You might carry your cards in one pocket and put cards you receive in the other pocket. If you don’t believe in giving out a business card, reconsider. Some like getting a card to jot down reminders about your conversation and where they met you. Your card is for them, not you. Learn more about business card etiquette.
Don’t be afraid to approach someone you’ve never met. You could open with ”Hi, I’m Sabrina Risley. This is my first time at this networking event. Have you attended before?” Here are more conversation starters.
Have you ever seen someone at an event that you’ve met before but can’t remember their name? The next time someone’s name slips your mind, say something like: “Hi, we’ve met before. My name is Sabrina Risley. I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name.” Even if you remember their name, always repeat yours for them in case they’ve forgotten yours. “Hi George, I’m Sabrina Risley. It’s nice to see you again.”
#6 Group Introductions
You can easily break into a group conversation by looking for an opening in the “circle” and step in or wait just outside. Introduce yourself when there’s a pause in conversation or when the person on your right or left acknowledges you.
#7 Invite Others In
If you notice someone standing alone nearby, welcome them into your conversation and introduce them around.
#8 Relationship Mindset
Networking is about meeting people, following up and building relationships. It’s not about selling and closing deals. When in doubt, ask questions about the other person. People enjoy talking about themselves.
#9 Gather Resources
Never discount anyone. It may be obvious they’ll never be a client or referral source for you, but they may have a skill-set you can refer to someone else. You’re helping two people our when you make an introduction between a resource and the person who needs them.
#10 Add Value
Listen for ways you can help them or, if it’s not obvious, ask how you can help. Maybe their looking for a specific resource, type of networking event, or moving company to help them this weekend. Then trickle through your database for who you know or who might be connected to someone that can help. Adding value means connecting the dots for others.
#11 Focus On Others
People love to talk about themselves. Ask questions about them and their business, where else they like to network, how you can help, what great things are coming up in their company. If you’re doing most of the talking, you’re not building a relationship.
#12 Listen Attentively
When you listen attentively, you’ll always have a follow up question to ask. If you can’t think of one, you might be thinking of a way to bring the conversation back to you instead of listening.
#13 Elevator Pitch
When someone asks “What do you do?” they’re secretly hoping you have an interesting answer. Don’t make them regret they asked. Have a concise response, focusing on the benefits you offer, rather than features. Consider it a 30 second introduction and don’t drone on about yourself. Answer, address follow up questions and then ask them another question.
#14 Meet New People
You’ll have time for conversations with only 3-5 new people so don’t talk long to those you already know. Each conversation should last no longer than 10 minutes. Schedule a follow up meeting to continue the discussion.
#15 Ask for Introductions
Introductions to potential referrals partners will yield more new business than asking for introductions to your ideal client. Before parting ways, describe your ideal referral partner and ask if there’s anyone they know that you should meet.
#16 End Conversations Gracefully
You won’t be productive talking to the same person the entire event, even if they’re a great contact to know. Don’t be afraid to end the conversation and move on.
#17 Follow Up
You won’t follow up with everyone but do follow up if you had a connection, detected potential or made a promise. Relationships are developed and deepened over time. Here are 10 unique and easy ways to follow up after networking.
Mastering just half this list puts you at an advantage over the average networker.
What would you add to this list? Let me know with a comment below and let’s share more tips.
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