Networking events are something that may scare you. They may be so daunting to you that you rarely even try to attempt them; but if, on the off chance you do, you’ve got to get it right.
Essentially, networking is attempting to build a relationship with a person who could be a potential client
Networking events are pretty much the exact same thing. They revolve around the idea that potential clients will gravitate towards businesses/people they want to build a connection with and are interested in. A networking event is something that puts people in touch with you and makes them aware of you; not something that means you’ve instantly gained a customer. Networking events put you in good positions to find these potential customers and over time build up a connection.
But, as mentioned, if you’re going to take part in networking events, you must get it absolutely right. Everything needs to be done in the right manner and the approach you take must be effective and correct. Here’s some all important tips...
This may seem like an odd, yet obvious one. Smiling makes you much more approachable and makes people feel comfortable in talking to you. Smiling is a polite, positive gesture that instils a sense of serenity and immediately gives people a good first impression of you.
It isn’t necessarily a matter of smiling all the time, 24/7.
It’s a matter of smiling and radiating positivity when someone approaches you
From the minute they show an interest, you should be reciprocating this interest and being positive and happy in what you say. Positivity will often actually pass over onto the receiver of said positivity - meaning the more positive you are, the more positive the person who approached you will feel.
Know your Goals
Before you even attempt to go to a networking event, you must know why you’re going. What your goals are, what you want to achieve, who you want to ideally meet, and so on. Without knowing and defining all of this, you’re not going to perform as well as you could.
The more definitive your goals are, the easier you’re going to find working towards them
Goals allow you to go into the event with a headstrong motive which then enables you to make solid advances towards them. You know your projected outcome, you know you want to achieve it, you know how you will, so why wouldn’t you implement this to the best of your ability?
Going to a networking event without defining your goals will lead to you wasting your time. You won’t achieve anything like you could achieve if you had strong goals and motives. The stronger your goals and motives, the stronger you’ll work towards them to reach them.
Don’t Be THAT Guy
At a networking event, there’s always that ONE guy/business you do not want to be. This is the guy that walks around the event, interrupting conversations to shove a business card in someone’s face and walk away. This does not work. All it achieves is annoyance and a negative attitude towards you.
You may think that shoving business cards in people’s faces is the way forward. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Business cards should only be given out if completely necessary
For example, someone has had a long conversation with you and taken an interest, it would then be worth handing them a business card with your contact details on. Giving out business cards to every Tom, Dick and Harry does not work. The business card will most likely have no value whatsoever to the majority of them, and so it will get you nowhere either way.
Don’t be All About Business
This subtly ties in with the previous; don’t be all about business.
Don’t shove your business in people’s faces when, the chances are, they aren’t all that interested
Whilst your goals may be to earn potential business, it’s about easing people into it. You can’t begin all your conversations with potential customers with all the facts there is to know about your business. You have to start to slowly build a friendship and connection with them; talk about things that matter to them, not things that matter to your business. Ask them personal questions and get them talking about what they’re interested in. This approach will make you seem extremely friendly and nice and they’ll feel that they can trust you.
People will automatically feel positive towards you if you talk to them on a much more personal level and create a friendly discussion rather than immediately start on the business chat and try to sell them your services and products.
Your elevator pitch does not necessarily have to be a pitch that tells everyone what you do and how you do it. It doesn’t have to be something that’s done in a 30 second space of time. It’s just a line to hook people in and help them see the benefits you offer in your business.
The best way to craft your elevator pitch is to focus on what you can do for a customer
Focus on what you can do for someone, not what you do and how you do it. This way, people will take an immediate interest as it’s something that will benefit them and make their life easier. People will be interested to know how exactly you can help them in the way you state you can, and therefore will take further action with your business to find this out.
Following up from the networking event is extremely important. You need to contact the people you met and got details of. Without contacting them, you’re going to lose the connection and potential sale.
“Connections are made with networking; sales are made in the follow up”
However you choose to follow up, you need to execute it. If you promised a phone call, an email, etc.; do it. If you fail to, people are just going to lose interest and forget about you. Make it so all the people you connected with do not forget you and your business, even if the follow up you give is a small email or thank you letter to say thank you for the brilliant discussion at the networking event. Chances are, they won’t be expecting it and so will feel pleasantly surprised and extremely positive about you.
Listen to People
You need to listen to people. You need to listen to their needs and their wants. This comes largely into play when you’re first speaking to them and getting to know them.
You need to really listen to them and understand who they are, their personality, what they do, their hobbies, what they need, and so much more. Listening to all of this information and really absorbing it benefits you in the long run as you can personalise and cater your words and content towards their needs and personality.
Really listening to people and understanding them, again, makes for a positive attitude towards you
People will feel that you truly care and are empathetic towards them; and the more you can get this feeling across, the better.
Networking events aren’t for everyone. They essentially consist of “cold calling” people in person to gain their attention and keep them interested. It’s a fine mix of marketing and connecting.
The more connections you can build up with people, the better
Connections are extremely important as they make people feel as though they can trust you. The more people trust you, the better. Trust is crucial in creating business and acquiring a customer. Trust makes people feel as though they can make a purchase into what you offer with no worries or concerns.
Showing your business at a networking event is all about being positive, friendly and approachable. It’s not about promoting and selling your business constantly. Your business, what you do and the benefits, should only come into play when absolutely necessary.