Too many times I have heard the phrase “I have to go to a networking event.” Why do we have so much anxiety over it? I had a boss who used to send me to events in his place and text me asking who was there, who I met and how many business cards I collected. The stress of networking under pressure is not a positive experience. I have personally participated in and run various networking groups. I have developed a system for success in attending an event or being a part of a networking group. Here are some of my best tips:
- You will get out of it what you put into it – if you go with a bad attitude you are likely to have a negative experience. Networking is a way to grow your business so treat the event as such.
- Regular attendance will boost your “brand recognition” whether you are a sole proprietor or work for a major corporation.
- Practice your elevator speech and change it up so you don’t sound like a robot.
- If possible look at the attendance list, this will allow you to maximize your time meeting prospects or partners you are looking to connect with.
- Be authentic- nothing is a greater turn off than when someone is speaking with me but obviously working the room to see who they want to speak with next.
- Go old school – use the Dale Carnegie method where you repeat the person’s name after you are introduced. Nothing is sweeter to someone as the sound of their name. This will also assist you in committing their name to memory.
- Be a connector – when you meet with someone think about who you could connect them with that will benefit them. Ask for nothing in return. The person you connected will be grateful and return the favor.
- If you have a tight schedule and can stop for a little while don’t announce that you are leaving or give an excuse, it makes it look like you have something better to do than being there. Do the “Irish goodbye” where you sneak out quietly.
- Make sure you follow up with those you have met. Even if you simply send a quick email saying it was nice to meet you. You never know who they may have in their Rolodex that will further your career.