The 12 Best Ways to Connect at a Networking Event
By Stephen Pead
Networking is a great way to prospect but it’s only really effective when you do it properly.
Here are the 12 best ways to do it:
1. When you arrive avoid gravitating to people you know, find someone new to introduce yourself to. This will immediately help put you in the right frame of mind.
2. When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t try to sell them anything, establish a relationship.
3. Keep your business cards in the breast pocket of your coat, shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse for easy access.
4. Keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands. This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time - it’s networking not dinner!!
5. Initiate conversations with someone who is standing by themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to.
6. During a conversation, use the other person’s name two or three times. People always like to hear their own name and it helps you to remember it when the discussion is over.
7. Have an engaging, well -prepared (and rehearsed) introduction ready. It needs to be short, sharp and impactful - who you are, what you do and the benefits of working with you.
8. That said avoid telling a new contact too much about yourself; spend your time asking them questions then listening. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn by being interested.
9. After the person has shared something with you, ask them a follow up question. This shows that you’re paying attention.
10. As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet, to at least one other person.
11. A networking event is not a way to see how many business cards you can gather, it’s a time to develop relationships that have future potential for both parties.
12. When you meet someone for the first time, you have around 36 hours to follow up before they’ll forget about meeting you. Will you email, twitter, call or send a thank you note?
Once you have addressed this list you might like to ask yourself some questions about the networking function you are about to attend.
What are you there for?
- Are you there to talk or to listen?
- Are you there to sell or connect?
- Are you there to be interesting or interested in others?
If you subscribe to these theories then you understand what networking is really about. It’s about being yourself, being authentic and taking your time to develop long term, meaningful relationships.
Remember when you connect with someone, you have to earn the right to do business with each other; it’s not automatically going to happen because you attend the same networking group!
About the author: Stephen Pead is sales and marketing veteran of 30 years with significant experience in sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in providing high performance training for salespeople and sales managers via his company Sales Solutions www.yoursalessolutions.com.au