networking

Are You a Networking Superstar?

Networking… it’s that thing we do to grow our business, right? Well it should be but my observations from many networking events I’ve attended leave me a little disappointed. You will always have your enthusiastic participant that knows why they have attended and are focused to get the most out the event to help expand their circle of contacts. Fantastic.

However, I still see a lot of attendees that have either come for the drinks and nibbles, come to talk about the weather or are just totally unprepared to participate in ‘networking’ at a reasonable level. The amount of people that turn up with out a business card never ceases to astound me. It’s hard to image why they bothered coming at all.

At a networking event you have a window of opportunity to connect with new people in the hope that some mutual or referred business may eventuate for each of you. That’s it in a nut shell. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need to pretend that is not your intent. It’s called a networking event for a reason!

So, do your networking efforts get the most of each event?

I have some simple methods that work for me that I put into gear during and after every event I attend. Here’s how they work…

During the event:

1. If you come as a couple or group split up and work your way around the room in different directions so you get as many opportunities to connect with different people.

2. Always, and I really mean always, swap business cards during your introduction. If you leave it till the end of your conversation this is every possibility of getting distracted and not exchanging.

3. Have a prepared, short and sharp pitch about what you do. Make it concise but easy to understand and with content that will promote questions and interest from whoever you are speaking with.

4. Don’t monopolize one person’s time at the event. If you sense a really good connection or opportunity tell them you will email them to arrange a meeting or a coffee catch where you can spend more one on one time on each others businesses.

5. Be bright and interesting and ask questions. People love talking about their lives, businesses and passions so get them engaged. You will stick in their mind after the event for being the one that was interested in their world.

After the event:

1. Collate all of the business cards you collected and add them to your database where appropriate.

2. Connect on Social Media like Linked In, Facebook etc and send each attendee a personal message inviting them to join your network. Don’t use the stock standard automated message.  Make it personal to each person.

3. Work through the contacts you have made and try to identify any that you could do mutual business with. Set up a meeting with those contacts so you can learn more about each others business. Whilst these meetings may or may not result in any concrete work immediately they could well lead to work at a later date or referral business from another party.

4. Stay in touch with your database. Have a monthly newsletter in place keeping your contacts up to speed with interesting information from you industry. Make it fun and add some personal tidbits about yourself. Find content that engages and entertains your audience.