What are your top networking tips? All of us network and a large number of us attend events to make new contacts and create opportunities.
1. Arrive Early and Linger Longer
Make it your goal to at least arrive early or linger longer and ideally if you can do both. When you arrive early, you can pick the spot you feel comfortable with, take in the room and feel comfortable. You can get to know the organizer and sometimes get to know the guest speaker if there is one.
You will find there is a lot of good discussion to be had before an event actually starts and when it is over. Focus on one person who arrives early, introduce yourself and see where the discussion leads to.
2. Share your Stories
Ask the other person to share their story, focus, listen, ask questions to get to know them better and then ask if you can share your story. Build relationships first. Sell later. Nobody likes direct hard selling so best practice is to refrain from it. Of course, if the opportunity arises and they ask and if the time/place is right, then go for it. Otherwise, ask for a follow-up meeting to conduct the selling portion.
3. Make Connections
This works both in connecting others and asking others to connect you to someone they know at the networking event. Nothing wrong with saying, by the way, I noticed you talking to "so-and-so", would you mind introducing me? Ask if you already know this person or at least have shared your stories.
Introduce people to each other. No, not everyone knows everyone at the event. If you know someone, ask if they know them and if they do not, ask to make the introduction. You just never know what a connection could do for the people you connect and they will thank you. (This is called triad relationships - introduce two people and let them connect as you walk away).
4. Bring your Business Cards
Yes, many of you have said you connect on social media channels and may already be connected with someone, however, bring your fresh, clean business cards. Ask if they would like your card and gladly give them one if they ask first. Ask for their business card. This is important for Tip #5.
If you do not have a business card, run out and get some before attending any networking events.
I know the regular Building Circles fans already know this and it is worth repeating. Follow-up with everyone you meet and have a discussion with. Especially if you say you are going to. Do not procrastinate on this one. Make it your goal to follow-up by the end of the next business day.
Be sincere and genuine. Thank them for meeting, for sharing their story and add something personal from your conversation. If you want to continue the conversation, invite them to your office or to a coffee chat at one of many choices in the area or ask if it is more convenient you will bring coffee to their office. Make it their choice of location.
I enjoy meeting one or two new people at an event. Most of the time I meet many more new people and am very thankful for this. Set a realistic goal of how many new connections to make, focus on them, listen, ask questions and introduce them to others.