Getting the most out of Networking Events
What’s the purpose of Networking Events?
People go to networking events for different reasons. Usually It’s to either learn something, meet with people who are like-minded or go “fishing” for prospects. One thing that EVERYONE has in common, is that it’s not easy – especially when starting out! Here are 5 helpful tips for Getting the most out of Networking Events
#1 – Just go for it – It’s gonna be weird no matter what
I have been to a lot of networking events and I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s terrifying. The idea of walking up to strangers, introducing yourself and starting a conversation can make anyone’s anxiety skyrocket! In my experience, I’ve found that the easiest thing to do is to just go for it. I’m talking about picking someone (or a group), turning off your brain and just walking over. It’s weird, scary and intimidating but if you can get to this point, the rest will take care of itself. Pro tip: Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the event.
#2 – Politely wait until you’re acknowledged
Once standing in the group, don’t interrupt anyone. Wait until they stop talking and look at you. Once you have their attention, simply introduce yourself, shake everyone’s hand, and ask what they do for work. Boom, now a conversation is happening. Naturally someone will eventually ask what you do, or why you’re at the event. The objective in these conversations is to figure out what everyone does for work. After spending a few minutes talking about everyone’s occupation, It’s time to decide if you should keep talking or move along.
#3 – It’s ok to cut conversations short and move along
It’s easy to get stuck in a conversation of pleasantries. They’re fun, they’re social and everyone is enjoying learning about each other. REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE THERE! The objective of a business networking event is to find people you might be able to do business with. This might mean you hire them, they hire you or its a collaborative type situation. If no one in your group is going to benefit you (or visa versa), it’s perfectly acceptable after 5 or 10 minutes to excuse yourself from the conversation. Just say “well it was great meeting all of you but I think I need to keep mingling, I’ll see you around!”. Getting the most out of Networking Events means always being conscious of how your time is being spent.
Pro tip: Before exiting a conversation, ask if they’ve met anyone in a specific industry. By doing this, you’re tapping into other peoples networks and it can lead to saving a lot of time shaking hands and making introductions. If they’ve met someone of interest, asking them to introduce you can ease the intimidation of making your own introduction. Most times they’ll be fine with it and it might even make you look good!
#4 – Looking for that 1 person
DO NOT be that person making rounds, handing out a million business cards. Just because someone has a pocket doesn’t mean your business card belongs in it. Sure, It can lead to something down the line which is great, but if there are tons of people at the event, your time is better spent looking for 1 perfect connection. If you meet 1 single person at an event that you actually end up doing business with, that event was a success. 1 quality contact is worth so much more then a thousand contacts that don’t go anywhere. (Read about Creating Business Cards that stand out.)
#5 – Set the appointment at the Networking Events
If your goal is to set a sales presentation or set an appointment, Do it immediately. People like to talk big, especially as they’re socializing, but locking them down to a time and date will help them actually follow through. Once they go home, you’re just another business card in their stack. By setting something concrete immediately the chances of that appointment actually happening are much greater.
Getting the most out of Networking Events is a numbers game
You always hear “sales is a numbers game”. In this situation, Getting the most out of Networking Events means selling yourself in a social environment to find the best matches. Simply put, the more hands you shake and introductions you make, the higher you chances of meeting the right person is. You might have to talk to 100 people before meeting the person that’s going to make a difference. As a general rule: Make introductions, be polite, be personable and move along until you find what you need.
Getting the most out of Networking Events can be pretty scary, especially if you’re new to the idea. Remember, everyone has some form of social anxiety! You’re not alone. Follow the steps above and you’ll be on your way to closing deals in no time!