Networking can prove to be a huge challenge for even the most social of us. There are many different behaviours, social cues and personal skills that need to be used to make the most out of any networking event for you and your business.
You may feel as though you need to be an extrovert in order to maximise your impact, but you don’t! With a little bit of training and with enough motivation anyone can become a power networker.
Pick the right event
Not every network event will be suitable for you, so it is a good idea to do some much-needed research beforehand. Find the events that are tailored to your industry, will help you attract prospects and that are aimed at your target market. Often networking events are members only and after attending several of these, you’ll know most of the crowd. When this happens, try to move on and find non-members type events.
Dress to impress
You’ll be amazed by the impact that wearing your best (or most appropriate) clothes will have, not only on how people perceive you but also on how you carry yourself. This is critical, as you will need to be confident and sure of yourself to positively connect with other people at the event.
Don’t use business cards
What? Yes, you read that right, forget about business cards. It’s one more thing that will go into someone’s pocket and be forgotten or stacked up in a huge pile of other similar business cards and left to fester. Instead, why not invest in branded USBs, pens or even branded foldable shopping bags? These promotional items are practical and are going to be repeatedly used in day-to-day life. That means that your brand will be at the forefront of people’s minds every day. Get creative.
Small talk, not sales spiel
Far too many people make the mistake of trying to pitch and sell to everyone they talk to. This is a huge mistake; it will push people away and leave you marginalised wondering why nobody wants to talk to you.
Just relax and make small (and interesting) talk with other people, embrace them on a personal level and build real connections – it is about networking after all, not direct selling.
Arguably one of the biggest hurdles you face at a networking event is the initial introduction. For beginners it can be a little bit awkward going up and saying hello to a stranger but what you need to remember is that many people in the room are in the same position – and everyone’s there to build relationships, so come up with a good opening line, something simple and interesting that gets the other person talking and get going.
Asking your target about themselves and what brought them to the event is a very good way to start a conversation and connect at a personal level. You can always follow up with questions on their job and propose ways to help them, it’s always a good idea to show value.
Find the right people
Meeting people is great, but if they’re a cheese monger and you specialise in astrophysics, then chances are you’re not going to be able to help each other (also, one of you is almost certainly at the wrong networking event, but as you did the research it probably isn’t you!).
Go and talk to more people to find those connections that will be able to enhance, help and develop your business. If you have specific people in mind, then target them and go and introduce yourself and start establishing that relationship.
You dressed to impress, worked on a killer opening line and made yourself unforgettable by thinking outside of the box and pleasantly surprising people with an awesome branded product. Now, take the extra step and follow up on them after the event.
This is vital. A networking event is like a first date, if you don’t follow up on the people you just met, then they may think you weren’t serious or interested. If they were going to get in touch with you and you don’t hear from them a couple of days later, then it’s worth being proactive and sending them an email or giving them a call to keep the relationship alive.
This post is brought to you by PA Promotions. PA Promotions offers a huge range of customisable promotional products to meet your demands and provide your customers and leads with high-quality, memorable items.