Setting Your Networking Stage For Success In 2014.
Everyone makes New Year resolutions and seldom stick to them, but what really is a resolution? According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: res·o·lu·tion noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\ : the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc., : the act of resolving something, : an answer or solution to something
So in layman’s terms a resolution is setting a goal and resolving to accomplish it. Now is the time to set your networking goals for 2014 and resolve to making this year your most successful networking year ever.
There are 3 parts to a networking event
- At the event,
- After the Event.
Here are 12 resolution/goal suggestions:
- Who do you want in your network. Before you venture out into the networking world, think about who you want to meet and what industry you want to build your network in. With so many different events to attend you can easily stray to an event that may not fit your networking profile. It is important to be choosey and pick the ones that fit your networking needs and that align to your goals. Identify your highest-value networking events and attend them , this will allow you to focus more on what matters most to you.
- Search Your Top Online Connections. Do some research on the people you are connected to online, or the people you want to be connected to. See what events they are going to, even ask them what events they like best. Networkers always like to help other networkers succeed. They will be happy to offer their advice.
- Dress for Success. First impressions are the most lasting, make them count. At a networking event , dress the way you want to be seen in the business world, and most importantly how you want to be treated. Also pay attention to where the event is being held. If you are going to an event at a ballpark you wouldn’t wear a suit and tie, but if you are going to restaurant or hotel event you may consider wearing business attire. No matter where the event, dress to impress.
- Business Cards. All to often, I attend events where people do not bring, or say they do not carry business cards. If you drive a car, you must carry your license, and if you are doing business you must have a card. I am not concerned with people getting in touch with me through my business card. I view a business card as a simple tool to allow me to ask for other’s business cards. I know that they may not contact me, but I will certainty contact them. Be sure to bring plenty of cards to every event you attend. Always keep extra in your bag or car, so you do not run out. Also choose a designated place on you that you keep only your cards, and do not mix them with the cards you take. This will stop you from accidentally giving someone the wrong card.
At The Event.
- Arrive early and stay late. Get to the event about 15 minutes before it begins. This will give you a chance to meet the organizers and key people from that particular network, ask the organizer to introduce you to the key influencer at the event, get some key tips on who you should meet, and ask some questions. Usually, the event is scheduled to end at a certain time, key members of the network will stay and mingle with each other, this is where the magic happens and relationships are built.
- Don’t stay with people you know. The whole purpose to networking is to create new relationships. That’s not to say you don’t want to briefly say hi and acknowledge them and move on, keeping in mind that they are there for you to introduce to others, what I like to call secondary networking.
- Find the center of influence. Who, in the room is the most connected person? This is a question you should ask everyone you network with at the event. Once you know the answer, introduce yourself to him/her and congratulate them on their accomplishment. Getting to know the center of influence will help you tremendously in your networking efforts. They may never do business with you, but they will know people that will, and when you build your relationship with him/her, they will be happy to help you.
- Don’t Answer Questions, Question Answers? All to often people like to introduce themselves, and then proceed to give their life story. Have you ever noticed speaking to someone and they look at their watch or over your shoulder as your speaking? That’s because you are speaking at them, not to them. Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves, and their favorite sound is the sound of their own voice. When meeting someone at a networking event ask questions about them, ask who they most want to meet at the event, about their business, their family, where they like to vacation, and most importantly, do not let your eyes stray from theirs, and listen attentively. You might ask yourself, “So how do I know what to ask?” That’s simple, Question Their Answers. Get to know who they are and the next thing you know they respond with, what I like to call, “Networker’s Gold”; So what is it that you do? Now they start asking about you and they truly want to hear what you have to say.
- Set a time to call. Because you are at a networking event, the initial contact should take no longer that 8-10 minutes at most. After all, you are there to meet new people and so are they. At that time, even if you haven’t had the chance to talk about yourself, ask if it would be of if you gave them a call. When they say yes, and they always do, take out your smartphone right in front of them and ask, Is tomorrow or the next day better? Morning or Afternoon? If Morning…Great 9:30 or 11:15, Afternoon…2:15 or 3:45. Always set the call at 15 minute intervals, and never on the hour. Doing this infront of them will let them know you are serious about your business. On this call is where you use the information on the back of their card that you wrote down. Your goal here is to make an appointment for a breakfast or lunch meeting. Everyone is always busy, but everyone has to eat.
- Take notes. This is a very simple task and will be a huge asset to your follow up. When going to a networking event, you are not going to remember every conversation. After each conversation, and when you walk away, on the back of their business card jot down the 3 things most important to them. Example: set of 3 yr old twins, going to Bermuda in March, adding another location this quarter. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. This information will be used in the follow up and will show how carefully you listened to them.
After The Event
- Follow Up. This sounds like the easiest part, but all to often missed by many. Be sure to call them exactly at the time you set up. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here your physical first impression was at the event, this is where you are making your business first impression. This will set the stage as to if your new contact will want to do business with you. Tell them you will call them at a certain time and don’t, will lose all credibility you established with them at the event.
- Strengthen Your Bond With Social Media. Connect on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Not only connect, but also suggest connections to them from your network. Share articles of common interest, invite them to other networking events you are going to. This is a tool that will explode your networking efforts if used properly.
In the Philadelphia area? I invite you to The Ultimate Networking Group’s 142nd Event Since 2009. The 2014 Season Opener of The Ultimate Networking Event Live at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, Philadelphia, Pa. Tuesday January 7th 2013, 6pm. Special Guests, LinkedIn Expert, Brynne Tillman, and Philadelphia Small Business Administration Director, David Dickson. Don’t Miss The Event People Will Be Talking About Throughout 2014. $7 Parking at Central Parking Just Around the Corner. Register Now at http://theultimatenetworkingevent.eventbrite.com
Looking forward to seeing you there.
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Thomas Camarda is a professional networker and speaks at networking events and seminars nationally. Thomas offers Networking training, both one-on-one or for your Networking Group.
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