Even the most confident, extroverted people can dread networking events, but those feelings are completely natural and often people forget that most people in the room feel the same way you do. Here are some of our top tips to help you make the most of the next networking event you will attend.
Here are out top 5 tips to help you through your next networking event.
Do your homework
Before you attend the networking event, make sure you have a well thought out plan. If you are going to meet a specific person, make sure you can get someone to help facilitate an introduction. If you are going because you want to build your brand, network while asking engaging and ask well thought-out questions, with an aim to add value to the conversation. If you want to build your professional network, have an idea of some ideal contacts you would like to have a conversation with. At the end of the day it’s all about setting clear, measurable goals.
This might sound like an old cliché however it’s so important to be honest with yourself and others in the room. One of the main purposes of networking events is for relationship building and if you aren’t being yourself, you’ll be starting these relationships on a backward step. Don’t underestimate the importance of good communication skills. These can be verbal and non verbal, your body language, eye contact, hand gestures and tone all add volume to the message you are trying to send. It is important to note the non verbal communication of other people who you are talking to. It may help you gauge their interest levels.
Don’t be a salesman
The instant sale is the dream of many; however it is rarely a reality. The expectation that you can walk in, give your elevator pitch and all of a sudden business is being made should stop. Often, if you go into a networking environment with the intention to sell with constant pitches, you will have the opposite effect and end up alienating your audience.
One of the most effective ways to around this is to change your mind set. Instead of going in there thinking “what can I get out of this” rather go in with the attitude of “what can I offer” this will help you stay on track of the long term objective of networking, which is all about nurturing the relationships that lead to a sale, or partnership, or referral. And relationships take time.
Listening can often be as important as talking. It’s important to focus as much on the other person as much as yourself, this can help you become one of the most engaging people in the room. This may sound simple but start by asking the right questions and listen to the responses. All the time, be thinking to yourself, “What can I offer this person?” You could potentially put them in touch with a contact that would be useful, be sure to note that this person may not always be you.
Once the event has completed, within 24 hours make sure to follow up with your new contacts. Connect with them on LinkedIn and personalise your message with details of the interaction. People can tell the difference between the standard template used when connecting and they really appreciate the personal message, which goes further than you think. If there is someone you would like to meet one on one, initiate the next meeting.
Keep your networking efforts simple. Become interested in others, find out what matters to them, and then centre your conversations on their interests and priorities. When you are genuine and sincere, your network (and eventually your net worth) will organically grow