The concept of reaching out to people is a lost art. As entrepreneurs we get so busy (and comfortable) working in our online bubble that we don’t make time for networking events. Networking at events or conferences is where the magic happens: where business relationships form and transform.
I’m here to help you make meaningful connections at your next networking event.
Myth #1: “I’ll wing it when I get there.”
You can wing it but you’re potentially wasting your time at the event. Start networking before the event.
· Find out who is attending and decide whom it is you want to meet in person. Research and follow them on social media.
· Build rapport by starting online conversations and let them know you’ll be at the event too. Get to know them through their social media presence. Do they have a blog or a podcast you can follow?
· Use the information you learn to get the conversation started when you meet in person.
· Establish a time to meet during the event or make arrangements to sit together at a lunch. Most people feel quite nervous and out of place at networking events, so having someone to sit with during the event can be comforting to most.
Myth #2: “People don’t like to be bugged during the event.”
This is a common barrier raised that prevents meaningful interactions. If people felt that way, they wouldn’t attend. Essentially, people attend events because they want to network and find opportunities to move their business forward. Opportunities look different for everyone. Here are some thoughts around opportunities:
· Opportunities can be a simple introduction to someone they know.
· Partnerships that align for cross-promotions.
· Contributing content to their blog, podcast or newsletter or perhaps they can contribute to yours.
· Products and services that solve their concerns, issues or problems. Be careful not to be too ‘salesy’ as this can turn people off. It rarely happens that you’ll make an actual sale at an event. You are in it for the long haul. Build rapport and trust during your interactions, the sales will come later.
Myth #3: “Following-up after the event is not appreciated.”
This is a huge myth that needs correcting. Follow-up is appreciated especially since people rarely do it. When you do follow-up properly, you stand out from the crowd. Proper follow-up means sending emails or thank you cards to the people within 24 hours of meeting them. Make reference to something you talked about or shared with that person to trigger their memory. Send them an article on a topic they expressed interest in and if appropriate, request a time to have a meeting or a call to move the ideas discussed forward.
Professionalism plays a part too. Professional attire, business cards and etiquette are all factors in how people view you and if they want to do business with you. Make the best of the event by preparing and putting your best foot forward and not in your mouth! Go get ‘em!