So you found a great networking event, at a great location. Your excited about going and you tell others about it and they are coming with you. Great, that’s exactly what you are supposed to do, now it’s time to “Work the Room”, and here is how it should go to get the most out of your event.
Take plenty of business cards and leave fliers and postcards behind. Remember Networking is not about making a sale, it’s about creating a relationship. Everyone likes to buy, no one like being sold. At a networking event, first create the relationship, if you do this right, plenty of business will follow.
Arrive 15 minutes early. Getting to an event 15 minutes early gives you a chance to meet the organizers and let them know who your ideal contact would be. It also give you the upper hand by meeting other Networkers as they arrive. It is easier to be on the so called receiving line, than to walk into a large group. As other Networkers arrive, they will be more likely to come to you and introduce themselves. Please note that 15 minutes is an acceptable early arrival time, anything more than that will interrupt the organizers as they are setting up the event.
Do Not Stay With The People You Come With. Networking is about create new relationships, not hanging out with the ones you already are close with. Rather than sticking with the people you go with, create a “Tag Team Strategy” . Be sure that you and your Tag Team Partner know exactly what type of connections you are both looking for. As you work the room, listen for his or her connection type and when you find them, go introduce the two. This technique will double your networking efforts.
Extend your hand. Whether you’re new to networking or a seasoned pro, to meet someone at a networking event is as simple as walking up to someone and extending your hand. People come to networking event for the sole purpose of meeting others, therefore you will be well received in this type of environment. Simply walk up to someone with your business card in your left hand, extend your right hand and introduce yourself. when they do the same, give them your card, they will reciprocate. Now, using their name, be the first to ask. “So John/Jane, what is it that you do?” listen carefully and let them tell you, without interruption.
A well received message. If you want people to genuinely want to know what it is that you do and pay attention, let them ask you. By having someone be the first to speak about what they do, and letting them finish while you listen attentively, when they are done they will follow up by asking you “What do you do?” Now you can deliver your message to someone that actually wants to hear it. It’s easy to walk around clamoring about yourself to a bunch of people, but are they truly listening? Using this technique positions your new connection to want to hear what you say, simply because you gave him/her the respect and time to listen to them and your message is well received.
Ask for the follow up. After your interaction, ask if it would be OK to give them a call and set a time to get together for coffee or lunch to see how you can better build each other’s businesses. This helps to assure that your follow will be solid because they are expecting it.
Note to self. When walking from your new connection, jot down an important personal and business fact about your new connection on the back of their card. When following up be sure to use this information. This will show your new connection that you truly paid attention to what they where saying.
Finally, Become the connector. This is where paying attention really pays off. As you meet different people at your event and listen to them attentively, you will hear what type of connection they are looking for. This is a perfect opportunity for you to burn yourself into their memory by helping them connect to others. For example if someone is looking to meet someone in engineering, and you have met someone in engineering at the event, you let your new connection know that and bring the two together to introduce them. Doing this, you now have connected two people that may have not connected. If, in fact, they do business together it would be because of you. When doing this, it is important to note it on both of their cards and when following up, ask “So how did it work out with John/Jane, the engineer I introduced you to?” Now you have become more valuable in your networking circle and when networking again the people you have connected will go out of their way to help connect you at your next event.
Next Week’s Networking Tip: How To Build A Power Network
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