“Summertime, and the living is easy,” and so is creating new contacts and connections. During the summer months, business networking events seem to cool down, but outdoor social events definitely heat up and everyone loves to have a good time. This is the perfect environment to create and build, long lasting relationships that could very well lead to big business. Whether it’s on the Sports Fields, Play Grounds, Vacation, Theme Parks, Neighborhood Festivals, or BBQ’s you are going to constantly meet new people. This is where “Unintentional Networking” happens. Why is it “Unintentional Networking” ? Because this is the time that we often don’t look at what we are doing as networking, rather just enjoying ourselves with family and friends, but in actuality these are the closest connections we have, and if paid attention to and approached properly, they can become some of your most valued business connections. Here are 6 suggestions on how to make summertime networking work for you.
- Always Be Prepared, Carry Business Cards. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone to personal functions and have asked for someone’s business card and they did not have one to give. Always have 5-10 cards on hand .
- Talk About Them, Ask Questions and Pay Close Attentions. The one thing I’ve learned over my 30 plus years of networking, people’s favorite subject is themselves. All you need to do is ask the questions, let them talk, and most important, pay close attention. People love to talk about their kids, so ask about their children and grandchildren. Ask about their home and if they are still living the same place, ask about their careers. You can be the catalyst to get them into full story mode, then just sit back, enjoy the conversation and listen, by listening attentively you will know if you will be able to connect professionally with them.
- Never Talk Business at a Non-Business Event. Always remember where you are and you will never overstep your bounds. Whether at a family or friend’s gathering, or on line at a theme park, remember you are out to have fun enjoying the summer, these are not business associates, that’s why you don’t talk business. If they do, don’t correct them, let them speak, but when they ask you about business, simply answer very briefly and follow it up with something like, “Hey, I don’t want to bore you with business talk here, let’s set a time to get together and see what we can do.” This keeps it social and they will know you are respecting there time as well.
- Tying Down A Time To Connect. This literally takes about 1 minute. This is where you ask “What’s the best way to get in touch with you?”, take out your phone and take their number and email address Then ask 3 simple questions:
- ” What’s the best time to call you, is ____day or ____day better?
- “What’s better, Morning Afternoon or Evening ?
- “Great is 7:15 good or 8:30 better?
Multiple choice is always easier, having them choose a day and time out of their week is a lot tougher than simply picking one from the choices you’re giving. By giving them choices, you break down the barriers of confusion and they tend to remember you are calling them because they picked their own time to speak to you.
While you have your phone out, put them in your calendar. I like to use Google calendar for this. Add them to your schedule and be sure to add them as a participant so your system will send them an email with your scheduled appointment and also send them a reminder. Remember this is a social function, so they will need to be reminded of your call.
- Connect Through Social Media. You would be surprised to find that the people that are close to you, really don’t know exactly what you do. Connecting with them on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and other sites will prompt them to get to know you more. Remember, you had them speak more about themselves while and they’ve realized that they don’t know you as much as you know them, you’ve created curiosity and now they want to know you.
- Be On Time. This is where most people fail, Be sure to call them or meet with them at exactly the time you have scheduled them. Understand that you have created curiosity and they are most likely looking forward to your call or meeting. At this point they have probably read your social media profile and they may have came up with a way to work with you. This is really your 1st impression to them, don’t mess it up.
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