Networking isn’t about selling. It’s about connecting with people with the ultimate goal of establishing a long-term relationship with them. This takes time and a system to make networking successful.
By using any or all of the tips below (in no particular order), you’ll find networking actually an enjoyable and worthwhile experience – really, you will, I promise!
- Handshake. Be comfortable giving a firm, assertive handshake. No wet fish handshakes allowed!
- Approach others who seem alone. When entering a networking room, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, but remember you are not the only one who feels this way. Scout the room for others who look uncomfortable or alone and approach them. They’ll appreciate it!
- What to say. Try a standard opener like: What brings you here? What do you do? What are you looking for today? Perhaps I can help.
- Follow-up. Attending a networking event and not following up is WASTED TIME. Connect on social media with those you met and send a follow-up email to set up a meeting.
- Select the right networking meeting for your goals. The most effective group will be the one in your business niche or the niche you hope to enter.
- Quality vs. quantity. If you come away with just two contacts that you have the potential of helping, you will have made your networking time worthwhile. So instead of trying to collect 20 business cards, hone in on just the ones you’re really interested in.
- Prepare your elevator speech. Be ready to answer the “What do you do?” question in a VERY short but descriptive elevator speech. Remember to focus on the benefits of what you do!
- Target prospects. If possible, view a list of attendees before the event so you know who will be there and who you’d like to meet. Once there, don’t be afraid to ask, “Do you know xxx (your target)?”
- Write on the business cards you collect so you’ll remember the person. You’ll want to refer to this in your follow-up message.
- Smile genuinely. A friendly smile will make you approachable.
- Ask about the other person. Listen and make eye contact. Avoid looking around the room while the other person is talking.
- Get to know people on personal level first by talking about topics such as movies, restaurants, concerts.
June Van Klaveren helps companies market their products and services. She can be reached for a FREE 30-minute marketing consultation at 636-394-4148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.