It’s all in the networking…
There’s a business networking event in your area and you’ve registered. You’re even excited about going… but, you feel a little intimated.
Business networking events can be a great opportunity to meet people in specific industries, at certain companies and even gain access to decision-makers that you might not normally be exposed to in typical office settings.
They can also be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not a “sales-y” type of personality. So, here’s a bit of a survival guide to help you navigate your next business networking event with ease.
We’ve all heard of the “Elevator Speech.” It’s that 30-second rundown of you, your expertise and hopefully, your passion in a manner that engages conversation with someone new. It’s what can open or close a door for you with contacts, potential employers and/or new clients.
Work on yours before the event. It should include a brief history about you and what you do. You should highlight a key success in a manner that provokes curiosity and possible additional conversation. “I’m Sarah Smith. I’m a freelance writer. I recently had the opportunity to ghost-write an article that offered tips on how to effectively increase your market share by double digits. It was a terrific learning experience and I’m successfully utilizing many of the things I wrote about.”
If you are talking with Sarah and market share is remotely of interest to you, wouldn’t you want to further engage her in conversation to pick her brain a little more? Of course you would. And, for Sarah, you could be a potential client as well. She noted she’s a freelance writer. Perhaps she can help you with that content management your company’s marketing department has been struggling with.
Bottom line. Work on your “elevator speech” because it can pave the way for lots of opportunities.
Meet New People
It’s tempting to scope out a room and look for a familiar face or two, then hang out with them for the whole event. Doing this feels comfortable, but it doesn’t expand your network at all.
Make a choice… to take a chance. If possible, check the roster or list of companies attending the event ahead of time so you can target one or two possible new contacts. Make it a point to engage them in conversation. If it doesn’t pan out, move on to another one. If nothing else, you will meet new people that you could encounter at future events.
“The choice isn’t between success and failure;
it’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness,
or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.” ―Keith Farrazzi
Pass the Card, please.
Make sure you arrive at the event with a supply of business cards in hand. This gives you the chance to make introductions with a lot of people and it is a method for follow-up after the event.
Make sure you engage in face-to-face conversation as you exchange cards – don’t just toss cards on a table at the front of the room and expect people to take them. If you’ve worked on your “elevator speech” and know of some companies that are of interest, the business card exchange can be the step that takes you to the next level with a contact. They may call you. Or, you can call them to follow up. You can also research them, their company and their successes through simple online searches. This will help you as you reach out and try to solidify the relationship.
So, that business networking event is more than an after-work social hour. Look at it as an opportunity to open new doors and potentially, make connections that could lead to possible projects.
Anything you’d add?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…