- Do your research – where possible get an attendee list prior to the event so you can make connections before you get there.
- Don’t go to the opening of an envelope – we have all experienced that stage in our careers where we have had to do BNI at 6.30 a.m and all manner of after work socials. If you are at a stage in your career where time is precious and you need to get max ROI on an event then be selective. Ask for recommendations from others on what are good events to attend.
- First impressions – unfortunately you will be judged within the first 3 seconds of meeting someone, this impression will be based solely on your appearance as few of us could manage to say much within 3 seconds. Take care with your appearance, its not a beauty parade but creased shirts, dirty shoes or just an un kempt appearance wont do you any favours. Another factor is your handshake – if you are guilty of the bone crusher or the wet lettuce then practice getting the balance right. Practice with colleagues or family and get feedback.
- No selling – as a natural sales person I sometimes struggle with this one as I love to sell, however, time and place! Networking is first and foremost about building relationships, talk about all manner of things from personal through to your role at work. It is important to cover a wide range of topics so that you can reach some common ground. By having things in common or just by liking each other, trust will follow which is the pre requisite to getting business.
- Follow up – if you ask for their card then do get back in touch, connect with them and mention via social media. If appropriate arrange to meet again, this is all part of the process to build trust.
I hope you have found the above tips useful, as a business owner I do a fair bit of networking but it has to work for me. Be brutal – if it isn’t working, don’t do it !