~ Preparation is the KEY. Research as many networking events as you can. You may not know what type of event suits you and your business until you test them. There are many different formats, many different price points and many styles. If in doubt, go along and give it a go.
~ Know your intention. Set yourself very clear goals as to what you want to achieve by networking. Of course it is to grow your business and your list, but networking may be the one place you make strong connections with like-minded business owners. This can be very powerful. Think about what these connections can bring to your business and what you can give to them.
~ Once you have chosen the networking events do even more research. How many attendees on the day? Cost? Is there an option to speak? Can I give handouts to all attendees? Can I donate a door prize or a bonus gift?
~ Write down and practice out loud a short description of your business. “I support self-employed professionals to build their public speaking skills through training and mentoring to have them speaking with confidence to grow their business”.
~ Be creative! How will you handout your details? Everyone else will have business cards and brochures. Perhaps there is something different you can do to have others remember you.
At the Event:
~ Arrive on time. Smile.
~ Seek out the host or organizer. Let them know you are a first time attendee and ask if there are any people you could be introduced to. The host may be one step ahead and suggest some introductions for you.
~ Ask the host if there is any way in which you can help. Even if it means taking a plate of food or handing out nametags, this means you will speak with many people and they will remember you.
~ If you find it daunting walking up to a group, take a look around for someone else who is on their own. Chances are they are feeling like you! Introduce yourself and practice asking them about their business and introducing your business. It will become easier as you practice.
~ Take the plunge and walk up to a group and introduce yourself. Remember you are all there to meet new connections and get to know each other and about each other’s businesses.
Show the passion:
~ You have a lot to give. It’s most important to remember that others do want to know about your business. Let them know with passion what your business is about.
~ Pay genuine compliments. There is always something you can comment about. Others will love this and remember you for noticing.
~ Ask questions. Take an interest in others. Keep the conversation going by asking more questions. People for the most part love a reason to tell you about themselves and their business.
~ Make it a challenge to have the other person talking more than you and listen to what they have to say with genuine interest.
~ Think about what you can offer this person. Can you share some resources? Do you know any mutual business connections?
~ Give the person you are talking with your full attention. Make eye contact throughout the conversation. Show genuine interest.
~ It can be equally daunting leaving a group. Politely say “excuse me”. If you are still not comfortable with this, wait for a lull in the conversation and say “excuse me I must keep mingling,” or “excuse me I am going to get something to eat”. Then make your move.
~ You are there to collect contact details. Once you have their details. . .you can contact them. Ask for a business card or contact details.
~ Make a note on the back of business cards so you will remember something about the person and their business. This will make for easier conversation when you follow up with them.
~ Make contact by email or phone the next day and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them and would like to keep in touch.
~ Send a gift in the mail with a hand written card. It may be something from your business or something small that they will appreciate. Give more than is expected.
Remember you will not connect with everyone in the room.
A guide would be to connect with 5 people for every 20 you meet.
You are not there to sell – you are there to connect. Consider that not everyone you meet will want to do business with you, but, they may know someone who will. Networking is about connecting and referrals.
~ Know your intention
~ Be genuine
~ Show the passion
~ Have fun!
~ Ask for contact details
~ Follow up