Networking: Do You Have Your Game On?
Make The Most of Your Next Networking Event
Look The Part
Maybe you’re going straight from work, and you take some time to freshen up and prep your appearance. Or maybe you’re getting ready at home… had a shower, dried your hair and now putting on that outfit you spent 20 minutes picking out. Good for you! Yes, you are going to a business networking event, looking put together and professional is truly putting your best face forward.
Just like any business meeting, you need to be prepared, are you? As you finish dressing you go to your office and grab that handful of business cards from that box that they came in, and with optimism you take a second handful as you’re hopeful this will be a busy night! What you probably don’t do is STOP and really look at that business card, which is something I strongly recommend… look at your card, is it a card you’re proud of? Does it really represent you, your company and most of all what your brand stands for?
I was at a networking event recently and believe it or not there were people there with no cards! The old “I ran out of the office to get here and forget to grab my cards” excuse… you’re kidding, right? You want people to put their trust in you that you are the most professional, most organized, and best equipped to have my business, and you can’t even remember to bring a card! Not good.
Take time to really look at your card. Now take the last 5-10 business cards you have received and compare them to yours. You may not think it’s much, but trust me, people hang on to nice and cool cards. Yes, even in the digital age where people are using contact apps and taking pictures of business cards to store them, if it’s a nice card they stick around!
Refine Your Pitch
Now that you’re ready, and you look great, you’re prepared and focused on networking success, there’s one last thing - and don’t laugh – you’ll want to know what you are going to look like and sound like, don’t you? Take your phone out of your pocket or purse, turn on that video camera and adjust the camera so it’s looking right at you … and go! Start your pitch, try your elevator pitch to your camera - your very own 30-60 second talk about who you are and what you do, then watch the entire video. It won’t be painful, and hopefully it will make you smile! While watching, focus on the words that you liked and that way you’ll say them again!
Make Your Minute Count
Today, more than ever, we have a limited amount to time when meeting people to make that professional connection. Give a firm handshake, look into their eyes when talking, smile, and project how professional and real you are. Networking happens every day, and I have told teams that I have trained over the years that selling is a simple process… all you have to do is tell people every day who you are and what you do! … that’s sales and that’s networking.
Feeling shy? Don’t be! Walk in telling yourself you’re not leaving till you find someone that you think will be a solid lead, a good lead. I can assure you regardless of what you do, what you sell or what you are promoting, if you’re walking into a room full of people, someone in that room needs what you have! If you’re chatting with someone that you believe doesn’t seem interested in your service or product, politely move on. You have limited time in such an event to find your next lead so don’t waste it talking to someone about this weekend’s big game.
In a true networking environment asking someone what they do is expected. People who enjoy their work like talking about it! When you get someone’s card and you move away from them, take a moment to write on the card something about them; perhaps they were interested in having you call them about a specific project they have in mind, so make sure you take a note right then and now! Don’t wait until you get home to make your notes. If your interacting with several business contacts, you could end up getting people and their requirements confused. When I don’t have a lot of time I’ll take a picture of a person’s business card and text it to myself along with some notes about that person and our conversation, and at then I have a permanent record to look at the next day.
A Word For Those Who Don’t Like Networking
To build your business, you need to build your network, so don’t ignore networking opportunities, as you may actually like them over time (or at least the results they can produce!)
Last bit of advice, send a quick email the next day to the people that you met, tell them it was great to meet them and that they left an impact… but only if they truly did! In your email, ask for the opportunity to meet them again and actually suggest a time: “Tom, was great to meet you last night at the networking event, you truly seem to have an amazing business and I would very much like to learn more about it, for I believe I have a solution that can really help you. Could we please continue our conversation next Tuesday at 11:00 am in your office?”
Finally, Avoid Time Wasting Events
Now that you’re ready to attend a business networking event, make sure it’s a true networking event, and perhaps find a way to talk to people who have attended this event in the past and ask them how it worked out for them.
Be cautious of the events that are labeled networking but tend to be social gatherings for the same crowd of people. You know the ones - same people in the same venues that go for the free food and drink only… pretty lame and a total waste of time if people aren’t actually there to network. Remember, you’re there to make new connections, and you’ve taken time out of your day, prepared yourself and are on fire and ready to go. The expectation should be that most attendees feel the same.
Best of Luck with your next Networking event,