1. Networking is about listening
We are all eager to get out there and talk about our business. We are even more excited to tell others about our services and our products. But have you ever met someone at a party, or in the clothing store line waiting to check out who just could not stop talking about themselves? Did it annoy you and make you want to rudely walk away and leave? Networking is not about being cool or proving how cool your business is. What is cool is finding out as much as possible about the person you are speaking with and establishing a connection so a relationship can be built.
Remember: We have two eyes, two hands, two nostrils, two ears and one mouth. Listen, listen, listen.
2. There’s that guy
Don’t be that guy that walks around shoving his business card into every hand that he sees. Yeah you know the guy I am talking about. The one that rudely interrupts every person in the room to make sure his card is in their hand, and you know what it is that he does and why you need to know him. Does this sound familiar? Yeah, don’t be that guy.
3. Leave the deck at home
Some may disagree with this but leave the stack of business cards at home. How many times have you walked away from a networking event with a stack of business cards in your hand? How many of those people can you actually remember? How many did you do business with? How many are you going to follow up with? For the majority, the number is very low. Bring five cards to your next networking event. Give these cards to the people that you truly connected with and with whom you plan to follow up. It is important to make those solid connections with a few rather than meaningless connections with many.
4. Remember Who Is Important
We are all excited and eager to make connections with the people around us that we forget who the most important person in the room may be. The event coordinator(s); after all this is the person that has brought all of these people together. Seek out the organizer, strike up a conversation and make a connection. Once the organizer knows who you are, what you do and who you are interested in connecting with you may get some great referrals and post-event introductions. A good organizer or leader will also point you in the direction of key people he or she feels you should know, and an exceptional leader will make the introductions personally.
Cement this relationship with the organizer by reciprocating. Networking events take time, energy, and networkers for it to be a success. Encourage people you know to attend the organizer’s events, introduce him or her to potential clients, and even the organizer. Show your support for the organizer and the events that he or she puts together.
5. Be Authentic
People can tell whether or not you are being genuine when it comes to your business. There is no half stepping with this. Stay true to who you are, your personality and represent your business honestly. Build genuine relationships with your fellow networkers, and this authenticity will set you apart while leaving a lasting impression. This will encourage people to listen and to want to do business with you. Remember, people like to do business with people they like.