How To NAIL Networking: The 4 Step Tutorial
Often I am asked the questions: What is the best way to network? How do I get the most from meet ups or networking events? What’s your secret at group events?
There’s no secret, well …OK there is. But I am going to break it down for you in four easy steps!
Feeling rushed and flustered can impact how you interact with others. You will not be on your best game if you show up late because you got lost or traffic was a nightmare. Make sure you are conscious of high traffic times and plan out an alternative route if traffic is bad.
You will be meeting new people and it’s going to be OK if you don’t remember everyone’s name. At the event, the coordinator will have a name badge for you, however it is more professional if you have one already made with your company logo and your name. The sticky tags fall off eventually, and a professional name tag can help others remember you.
Don’t forget your business cards! This is the number one thing that is often forgotten for networking events. Make sure you have plenty of business cards on hand.
It’s hard to walk into an event alone and not know anyone. The truth of the matter is that you are not alone. 90% of the other people there don’t know each other either. This is a situation where the only thing you can do is walk up to someone, smile and introduce yourself. It is actually expected in this type of social setting. Networking events are specifically designed for you to meet new people, so don’t be shy! Keep track of your body language and make sure you are sitting or standing in a manner that is positive and welcoming. A smile goes a long way.
Listen More, Talk Less
While I know you want to tell everyone how great your business is and how wonderful you are - this is not the time - so don’t. This is not the time for hard pitches or sales. Networking is about getting to know other people, planting seeds and growing professional business relationships. When the conversation comes to you about what you do, make sure you are not sounding too boisterous or braggadocios. When you listen to others talk about their business, think about others you may know that could benefit from what they have to offer - not what can they do for you. Give them your full attention. Every good conversation starts from a good listener.
Follow Up Authentically
So you made a great connection at a networking event…AWESOME…..now what? It’s proper etiquette to wait till at least the next day if not 24 hours. When you chose to follow up, be sure to remind them about when and where you met and maybe a brief snippet from your conversation to help spark their memory! Emailing is the modern customary way to connect, but feel free to use LinkedIn. A handwritten note may be out of date, but it makes a great statement.