Enhance any event with these networking tips

Bravo! You and your Mastermind BFF finally put your big girl panties on and registered for the Marketing Association’s wine and cheese that’s happening next week!

Part of you is looking forward to going, but the other part, not so much. What will you say to the other people? You hate talking about yourself, and many people just ramble on about themselves non stop, or don’t even enquire as to what you do.

In the past weeks, I’ve written two other posts about networking: Five tips to help you make networking more fun and Six networking objectives to be more effective.

The number ONE rule: build relationships!

In this third post in my networking series, I’m discussing some of my main networking tips so you can get the most out of your event!

1. Arrive early

Most people don’t like to be among the first ones at an event. However, it’s often best to arrive at the beginning. You can meet the organizer, and some of the key participants might be there. It’s also quieter and groups won’t have formed yet, so it’s easier to meet and chat with others.

2. Don’t hand out your business cards unless you’ve been asked

Many people make this mistake. They think they’ve been successful if they’ve given out every card they brought with them. WRONG! Think of your cards as a special invitation to get to know you better and only give them out when someone asks. This means they’re interested in you and your services, and your card has a higher chance of NOT ending up in recycling.

3. Don’t ask for everyone else’s business card

This ties into point #2. Don’t give out cards to everyone and don’t ask for everyone’s card either! Since networking is all about creating lasting relationships, be selective and only ask for someone’s card if you’re truly interested in following up with them.

4. Keep the conversation light and informal

A lot of people begin the conversation immediately with what they do and list all of their accomplishments. Do things differently. Treat them as friends. Get to know people on a personal level.

5. Ask thoughtful and open-ended questions

Asking genuine questions and listening attentively are two amazing skills that successful networkers have mastered. Leaving a conversation knowing more about the other person is a good sign! The other person will feel special and you’ll be better able to serve this person when you follow-up in the days ahead.

6. Know how to explain what you do – in a few words

When you’re at an event, if someone does ask what you do, you only have a very short time to explain how you help people – basically the time it takes for a short elevator ride! This is what we call an Elevator Pitch. You want your elevator pitch to answer the questions: Who do you help? What do you help them with? What are the benefits to them?

7. Spend your time wisely

You may find yourself with someone you know is not a good fit, or just rubs you the wrong way. Do you need to spend a long time with this person? NO. Your time is precious and depending on your objective for the event, you’ll want to search out other folks to talk to. An easy way out? Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. Or catch the eye of your BFF and say your goodbyes.

8. Follow-up in the days after the event

A good networker will always follow-up with the people they connected with at an event. A thank you, a resource, an article pertaining to the conversation they had, etc. are all excellent ways to reach out and continue the relationship outside the event.

9. Treat your network like a garden

Relationships, like gardens, take time to grow. So be patient. It will take time to build a new friendship and gain the trust of someone you just met. So, go slowly. Regularly reach out to your network and give updates, ask others how they are, connect them with key players in their industry, go out for coffee or lunch, or invite someone to another event. There are many ways to keep your garden growing.

10. ‘Who can I help today?’

Successful business owners ask themselves this every morning! This question will put in you in a giving and generous frame of mind, and your actions will flow accordingly. The ‘What’s in it for me’ attitude will not get you far! So, who can you help today?

Have any other tips? Let me know what your next networking event is and how it went!

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