A lot of people forget to think of networking as a work-related activity. Instead, business professionals and entrepreneurs only go to a networking event if they think they can squeeze it into their schedule or into their free time. They will go to the event, socialize with people, have a few drinks, and go home with no real results.
When they leave, they might have had a fun time, but they might think that these events are not really worth the time and effort to go to if they are expecting to get business from them. Have you ever felt this way after a networking event? Follow these steps to get the most out of networking events for you and your business.
Start with the end in mind. Know what you want to get out of the event before you go. Set a goal for how many people you want to meet, how many appointments with these new contacts you want to set, how many business cards you want to collect, or you want to reconnect with.
Go with a clear purpose. If you know what you want, you can achieve it more easily.
It can be a bad idea to go to a networking event with someone that you already know. It can be too easy to just talk to the people you came with. Get out of the comfortable place of people you already know. Try to meet someone new and start a new relationship. Build your network. Your success is related to how big your network is.
When you meet new people, you meet feel worried about what to talk about. Ask them about themselves. People like to talk about themselves. If you’re stuck, use these questions to get you started when you talk to someone new:
If the person you’re talking to mentions being married, you can ask them about their spouse or how long they’ve been married. Try to find out if they already have someone in your field that they already do work with.
When you’re asking these questions, make sure you listen to their answers. Look for similarities that you can talk about, or for a problem or need that they have that you can solve for them. If you connect with them, you might be able to get a meeting in your diary before the event is even over.
Networking is really all about building your relationship with people. People like to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Building these connections is well worth the time and effort to get more clients, contacts, and potential partners.
How many times have you been given a card and then lost it before you even leave the event? Nobody wants a business that they didn’t ask for, so don’t get into the habit of pushing your card on people.
If someone asks for it, do give out your card, and make sure you have a card that is well-designed (a Foil Printing Company can make yours stand out) and has all your details on it. Try to get business cards, rather than just handing out yours, so you’re in control of the follow-up.
This should be a plan that you can repeat over and over again after the event is over. You might try things like connecting on social media, adding them to your CRM email campaign, sending a card, or texting them. Ask for an appointment to meet again. At that appointment, try to get their business.
Always be yourself. Find people who like you for you are instead of trying to be someone else. You can fake it for so long, so start out by being real. If you relax, networking can even be fun.