It’s fair to say networking isn’t for everyone. It is also sometimes seen as a social activity but its not, its an important marketing tool that can help grow your business. Here are 5 things you can do to ensure you get the most out of networking events:
Have an objective
Ask yourself why your going to the event and what you want to achieve. Simply stating you are going to meet people is not specific enough, ensure your objective is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound).
- How many people do you want to meet on the night?
- Are you looking to meet someone specific?
- Are you going to pitch something?
- Are you attending to become a ‘familiar face’ at the events?
If you find networking events anxiety-provoking make sure you prepare. Plan your outfit, route and who you intend to speak to (if you have access to this information). Organising small details in advance will take away some of the feelings of anxiety, you should feel calmer on the night.
Go with someone
Take a friend or college with you, this will help ease any nerves you make have. It also means you have someone to fall back on if you find there’s a lull in the conversation. Just be careful you don’t spend the whole event with people you already know, strike up conversations with new ones.
Talk to people
Its always hard to strike up a conversation with people you don’t know. When meeting new people ask questions; people love talking about themselves. Here are a few conversation starters:
- Have you been to a [insert name of event] before?
- How did you find getting to the venue?
- What nugget of information from the presentation resonated with you?
- I really like the mini quiches have you had one?
- Hello, how are you?
When you ask questions, make sure you listen to the answers. and respond appropriately. Building rapport with people will help you build relationships. People will do business with people they know, like and trust.
Collect cards and follow up
Take business cards with you but don’t push them on people. Rather take there’s, that way you are in control of the conversation and the follow up. The key here is to follow up with people. Plan your follow up in advance. You send a ‘nice to meet you email’ and connect with them on LinkedIn. Try to add details specific to the recipient for example:
‘It was nice to meet you at the [insert name of event], I recall you mentioned you struggled with [insert problem]. This is not something I can help you with but Sam Smith from XYZ limited should be able to help you’.
Ensure you ask before giving out people details but sending an email similar to the above should help you build relationships with both parties involved.