Networking events don’t have to be a pain – Follow our Top Tips for Business Networking!
The concept of a networking event has been around since the origination of trade and business. For as long as people have had items to barter, sell or trade, they have needed to meet customers and resellers of their products or services.
Even now, in the age of social media and social networks, a face-to-face meeting is often required to spread the news of your business, and one of the most effective ways to do that is to go to a networking event where you’ll meet like-minded people who want to learn of other business.
One thing to bear in mind though, is that other business networkers are not always looking for you, but instead to network their businesses.
- When you initially arrive at a networking event, avoid gravitating to people you know. First, thank the host and then begin finding someone new to introduce yourself to. This should help you stay in the right frame of mind as to why you came to the event. Remember, you’re here to network your business.
- Stop selling and start listening! When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t try to sell them anything. Rather, begin to establish a relationship. Many of us have products or services that aren’t immediately in demand, but over time you want to be ‘top of mind’ when they hear of someone who needs what you have. That comes from being a referral partner, not a first time meeting.
- Keep your business cards handy, such as in the breast pocket of your coat, a shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse so they are easy to access and in good condition. The same with your mobile phone. If the other party has a compatible device you can exchange contact info instantly via apps such as AirDrop for iOS or the LinkedIn application, which works across devices such as Android to iOS or vice-versa.
- When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand writing a note or additional contact information on it. This will cause the recipient to feel that they are receiving something special, it will make your card stand out when they go through the contacts they made at the event.
- When receiving a business card, write yourself a note on it, such as where you met. If you do this while you’re still talking to the person, it will help convey your sense of personal connection.
- During the course of a conversation, use the other person’s first name two or three times. People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is over.
- The best business networking tip: rather than telling a new contact all about yourself, instead, ask them questions. Being a listener is much more effective at engaging someone than talking the entire time.
- After you meet someone for the first time, use the back of their business card to jot a quick note about something you learned from them and the date and place you met them. Recording this information will give you something to talk to them about the next time you see them. It can also make them less wary when you follow up with a phone call if they don’t remember your initial meeting.
- Connect with the person you’re networking with by tilting your head as you listen to them. It is an effective body language technique that indicates that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying.
- When a person is talking to you be sure to look directly at them. Giving a person full attention will encourage them to share more.
- When making eye contact, remember it’s not a ‘stare-down’ contest. Give the person three to five seconds of eye contact and then look away briefly before returning your focus to them again.
- Some of the best locations for networking are by a high-traffic area such as a main door, the bar, or near the food service areas.
- Never approach someone if they are walking toward the restroom or exit, or if they have a phone in their hand. Instead, wait until they are returning to the networking area or have put their phone away.
- After the person has shared something with you, ask them another question about what they have just said. This demonstrates that you’re paying attention and that you listened to what they just told you.
- Try to keep one hand free to shake hands with people. Remember, you’re there to network.
- Be a connector. Introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person you know that they could benefit from knowing.
- Don’t try to barge into a group of four or more people. Come to the side of the group, but don’t attempt to enter into the discussion until you’ve made eye contact with everyone and a minimum of two other people in the group have indicated it’s OK to joint their group.
- Do not approach two people who are talking already, as you could be interrupting an important discussion.
- Initiate conversation with someone who is standing alone. They’ll probably be very happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, may open up with valuable information.
- When you meet someone for the first time, you have 48 hours (or 2 business days) to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.
- The goal of a networking event is not to see how many business cards you can acquire. Instead, it’s a time to develop a few quality relationships that have potential to yield strategic referral partners.
Remember that people do business with other people who they know, like, trust and value. This means if you’re not genuine about wanting to help others to grow your network, you’ll fall short. Be Genuine!
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