Tips To Successfully Network at Events

In order to network properly first you need to know what networking entails.

Networking is the process of meeting new people and maintaining valuable contact with people. There must be a mutual benefit to both parties.

Networking only works if you know why you’re networking in the first place and what you want from networking. Ask yourself these four question:

  1. Am I networking in order to change career?
  2. Am I networking to grow my own business?
  3. Am I networking to start my own business?
  4. Am I networking to grow my email list?

If you can answer these question with certainty and clearness then you are ready to network.

To make your networking experience successful, you must research the network events that are in your area. If you can travel at least 15-20 minutes outside of your immediate area, do it. Look for events in the area of your business goals. Example: if you are a virtual assistant and your area of interest is working with realtors, then you should look for events involving realtors.  When looking for events, check on Meetup.com, Facebook groups and Eventbrite.com be specific when checking these sites. Also check your local newspaper metro section.

Once you have picked your events to attend make sure you:

  1. Pick your clothes. Make them comfortable, neat, and clean and wrinkled free. Your appearance is your first impression.
  2. Practice walking. Walk confidently, straight and head held high.
  3. Practice your handshake. Make sure your arm is fully extended and your grip is strong.
  4. Business cards. Make sure you have enough with all your information on them. Also, have a way to accept electronic cards. (camcard.com)
  5. Practice your elevator pitch. Read it aloud to someone and in front of a mirror. It is a 20-30 second introduction of yourself and your business. It should be second nature for you to speak.

When you arrive at your event:

  1. Walk the room. Find the people you want to talk to first.
  2. Ask open end questions. This gives them more time to talk and you more time to listen. Never give your opinions.
  3. Keep eye contact during your entire conversation. Maintaining eye contact shows your interest and you’re paying attention and listening to them.
  4. Pay attention to body language. A person’s body language will tell you more than their words. Looking away from you- that tells you they are not listening to you or bored with the conversation. (http://bit.ly/BodyFaceLanguage)
  5. Speak clearly. Make sure you are clear and concise when speaking.
  6. Say thank you. After you finish speaking with them and shake their hand again.

When you get home:

  1. Make notes. Write down notes and dates on everyone you spoke with.
  2. Follow up within 24-48 hours. Send an email or phone call. Remind them where you met, some of the conversation you had and thank them for speaking with you.
  3. Set up a 1 on 1 meeting. Invite them out for coffee. Use this to get to know them and their business better. Ask what you may help them with in their business.
  4. Invite them to an event. If there is another event you know/heard about, invite them as your guest.
  5. Keep in touch. Send out an email about every 60-90 days just to let them know you were thinking of them and not forgot about them and their business needs. You can also send them business news about their industry with the subject line- thought this would interest you. Just don’t bombard them.

Always end the meeting with thanking everyone you met. Make sure you shake hands again before walking away. Apologize to the ones you didn’t get a chance to meet. This would be where you say; I am sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk, how about next Tuesday 9am at So So for coffee? This will let them know you’re interested in what they have to say and their business.

The biggest mistake we all make is being pushy. If you see someone is avoiding you, stop trying to meet them. They are not ready yet. Never give your business card unless asked. Politeness goes a long way in making your networking experience profitable.

 

Books for reference

Successful Networking in 7 Simple Steps, by Clair Dignall

Perfect Phases for Professional Networking, by Susan Benjamin

How to Work a Room, by Susan Roane

Make Your Contacts Count, by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon