Dos and Don’ts of Networking at a Business Event
Here are seven tips networking tips in order of appearance, not necessarily importance:
1) Resist the urge to arrive late. IF you are anxious, showing up on time will prove more calming. You can grab a drink, get adjusted, and you won’t walk into an overwhelming crowd and/or be bombarded right when you walk in.
2) Smile. Sound simple, but it’s easy to forget. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you walk up to someone new and start a conversation. Dreading the event? Check that negative attitude at the door because it won’t get you anywhere.
3) Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, expecting for someone to approach you. Walk up to people (best to approach groups of one or three+ …two people in conversation are more likely to be discussing something private or important). If you approach, start with something simple – “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” and there’s always the less formal, “What up?”
5) Ditch the sales pitch. No one wants to hear a monologue about what you do and no one likes a hard sell. Keep your comments brief. The less you say about what you do, the more likely they will ask YOU questions. Keep the conversation light, informal, and funny if you can. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.
Note: If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company. It can be beneficial to take a few minutes before the event to create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.
6) Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. What do people like most? Not that!! People like to talk about themselves. Look people in the eye, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker. Pose questions and LISTEN!
7) Be real. If you are uncomfortable, remember: NOBODY cares about you. Really! 90% of the people in the room have their own issues and are wondering if they are too fat, too ugly, if they wore the right clothes, etc.
The above are tips for DURING the event. AFTER the event, you should follow-up by (at the very least) doing anything you said you would do. If you said you’d call someone, call them. If you promised to invite someone to an event, send them the invitation. If you mentioned making a connection, make it. If you told someone you’d email them the link to the pink Vespa, do it! If you said you would do it, do it! Showing follow-through after an event shows consideration and competency. People like to do business with competent, considerate people.
…If you have any interest at all in staying connected to a person, I recommend requesting to connect on LinkedIn, but that’s an entirely separate conversation.