Network with a Partner
You can cover more ground with a partner than you can alone.
With two people you can have twice the number of conversations and talk with twice the number of people.
After the event you can sit down and compare notes. Also, if you find a fit for your partner you can introduce them to each other.
Arrive Early / Stay Late
In order to maximize your networking investment, invest the time.
Be one of the first to arrive. This allows you to meet and help the event organizers out. Remember they brought all of these people together and they should have a fairly large network themself. The may start introducing you and allow you to tap into that network.
Offer to help out. Offering your services will place you in a new light for the organizer. As real estate guru Richard Robbins says, “Giving begins the receiving process. ”
Don’t be in a hurry to leave. Many people rush out of networking events to “get back to work”. Remember, if you are representing your company or organization, this is work. I have made many great connections while stacking chairs at the end events, that have later converted into business.
Part of the ritual at Networking Events is to exchange contact information by giving and receiving Business Cards.
A couple notes about your Business Cards
Make sure you bring plenty of them. Just imagine if you only brought 10 business cards with you and then the person you really wanted to meet, the person who can make your quota for the quarter walks up to you and wants to talk and trade business cards with you. But they are the 11th person you met at the event. Don’t let this happen to you because running out is not an excuse and you wouldn’t want to raise doubt in the mind of your potential customer at one of the most critical times in the relationship, would you?
Make sure your cards are clean. Bent corners, coffee stains or someone elses scratched out phone number on the back will not impress anyone. Do you think that conveys professionalism? Remember, your business cards are part of your marketing material. You wouldn’t send out flyers with coffee stains on them.
Purchase a classy looking business card holder. This will help prevent the above problem.
Make sure your cards convey what you do. One of my pet peeves is when I receive a business card that doesn’t say anything about what the company does. Run your cards through this test: If they run into your ideal customer a couple of days after the event and want to refer you. Would they be able to pick your card out of their stack cards in order to make the connection.
Handle both yours and your prospects business cards as if they were made out of precious gold. Nothing turns off a prospect as much as seeing their business card folded and played with right in front of their eyes. This shows a total lack of respect and doesn’t start the relationship off on the right foot. Carry this point over to other marketing material that they gave you. I once had a 16 page booklet that took me weeks to produce folded in front of my eyes and once I noticed her folding it, I stopped paying attention to what she was saying and quickly ended the conversation. Needless to say, no money was exchanged as a result of that act.
Ignore these traps at your peril, because they could cost you business. And isn’t that the reason for attending the event in the first place.
Set specific goals
Before you go into any Networking Event you want to set some specific goals.
You want to determine how many new prospects you want to meet.
Are they any specific people you really want to talk with.
When you go into the event with a specific game plan it will help keep you focused and you will be surprised how often your goals are realized.
Convey a Professional Image
Since you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, you want to make sure the impression you leave on your new networking partners is a good one. The following tips will help you do just that:
1. Smell Professional: Check your breath and carry breath mints/strips or gum. Be careful not to wear too much purfume or cologne. This could be offensive to some people (especially at breakfast meetings). If their eyes are watering, you know that you have overdone it. Also, be careful to mask smoking smells.
2. Look Professional: Make sure you are wearing clean / pressed business attire and not too much jewelry.
3. Carry a nice pen: You need a pen to make brief notes on the back of business cards, especially about things you promised to do and things you talked about. Make sure the pen conveys the image you are trying to portray. An attractive Cross pen will impress more than a cheap bic click pen.
Make sure your image is helping and not hurting you with your networking connections.
Do your homework: Research the guest list
This is one of the secret strategies that only the master networkers implement.
Try to obtain a list of the people who will be attending the event. Then do a quick “Google” Internet search on each of the potential attendees. You want to find out what they do. Find out any of their recent accomplishments.
Another key homework item is to keep up to date on current events that may effect the people you will be networking with. These include local news, weather and industry events or happenings.
The amazing benefits of doing this quick research will be the powerful connections that you will make. Imagine having someone comment to you about one of your happenings. How impressed would you be?
This strategy also gives you a great opening to start a conversation with the people you want to connect with.
But dont take my word for it, try it yourself and enjoy the benefits.
Have the right attitude!!!
Most people attend Networking Events with the wrong attitude or focus. They are so concerned by what they will get out of the event that they forget the goal of attending, which is to make connections with people you can help. If you take a servent attitude to the event and focus on finding ways that you can help others they will in turn start looking for ways to help you.
A great exercise to do at events is to play what I call the Networking Game. In the Networking Game you simply go into the event looking to find out at least 3 new pieces of information about people. By taking the focus off yourself you will find that you will become a more attentive listener and your nerves will calm down. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.