Before the Event
Be Confident - Remember you are at an event where people expect you to network. Networking at an event becomes much easier if you remind yourself that you are at a networking event where people expect you to talk to them.
Bring Business Cards - This one seems basic, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen forget their cards or say “I just gave away my last one!” Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need.
During the Event
ntroductions - When you meet someone new, introduce yourself by making eye contact, smiling, stating your first and last name, and giving a firm but brief handshake. Then, listen for the other person’s name (believe me, it’s easy to miss when you’re nervous).
Listen for How You Can Help - Here’s a networking secret: Listen for how you can help. We are auto-tuned to listen for how we can sell or how people can help us. Instead, listen for how you can help others (not sell them). Maybe it’s making an introduction, maybe it’s sending them a Ted Talk or article. Dr. Ivan Misner, calls it Givers Gain®, a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity. In networking, people who dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow networkers rather than making their foremost concern getting business for themselves. In doing so, other people naturally become eager to repay their kindness by sending them business in return.
Show Authentic Interest - Have a few good questions in your back pocket. Good networking involves mostly listening. Listening and asking good questions. Some of my favorites are from Mark Sackett and The Art of Active Listening:
· Who are you?
· What do you do or would rather be doing for a living?
· Why, specifically, are you here today?
· What are you really passionate about, that makes your blood boil, that makes you get out of bed every morning?
Be Prepared to Talk About Yourself - Be prepared with your elevator pitch that speaks to your passions, and questions about your career, but avoid using industry jargon. Most of all, be authentic with the people you interact with because this is how you will be able to make real connections that can lead to referrals.
Take Notes - You probably won’t remember the important details of every conversation, so it can be helpful to write them down. Carry a notebook to take notes about who you talked to, what you talked about, and any follow-up you want to do.
After the Event
Follow Up – This is the KEY to building relationships “beyond the business card”. 70% of the time, people do not conduct any follow-up with those they meet at events. Within 24-48 hours after the event, send follow-up emails to anyone you met that you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to personalize each email, letting each person know you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning something that you talked about.