Don’t bother with your business card; networking success comes from building real relationships.
You arrive alone. Your heart is beating a little faster than normal and suddenly all your charisma and charm go out the window. You try to lock eyes with someone so that you can find a temporary home in what can feel like a sea of strangers. But everyone looks happily engaged in conversation.
While this might sound like your experience at a high school dance, it’s also what many people feel when they enter a networking event.
These are completely natural reactions, even for the biggest extroverts. The great news is that people go to these events to meet strangers, so you’re in the same position as everyone else.
Here are the best networking tips according to Life Coach:
- Get Your Personal and Emotional Needs Met– Before you even bother attending any events or functions, first figure out what your needs are and get them met. Why? Because we instinctively run from neediness in any form, and since all humans have personal and emotional needs you might as well find out what yours are and then get them satisfied so you aren’t running around repelling the very people you want to attract.
- Prepare and Perfect Your Elevator Speech – Make sure it is short, punchy, memorable and benefit-based. E.g. “Hello, I’m Ted Johnson. I alleviate chronic pain. I’m a chiropractor.”
- Get There Early – If you are one of the first there, then newcomers will come to you. If you are late, you’ll have to elbow your way into a group.
- Go for Quality over Quantity – If you come away from a meeting or event with one person who you really connect with, you’ve done well. It is much better to walk away having had one really good conversation or making one real connection than with fifty business cards that are meaningless.
- Be Memorable – If you do go to an event or function, you’ll want to be memorable. It helps if you have a prop or a visual image that reinforces your message or business. A computer programmer might have a microchip lapel pin. If you are in a creative business, make sure your attire looks creative and helps to brand your business. If you have a chance to introduce yourself, a fun visual prop will help you stand out from the crowd.
- Speak Clearly and Concisely – Avoid ums and ahs like the plague.
- Ask Three Powerful Questions – We are more likely to like and remember the person who listens to us than the person who talks. So, be that person who gets others talking by asking three great open-ended questions such as: What got you started in this business or line of work? What do you enjoy most about what you do? Tell me about your favorite customers so that I can refer prospects to you.
- Do What Works for You – There is no rule that to build a network you must be an extrovert and go to functions and shake hands with loads of people. Some of the most successful networkers are introverts who have built up a community of followers online through blogs or Facebook or Twitter. Use your natural strengths and abilities to create a network of people.
- Add Value at Every Interaction – People love being acknowledged so this is a simple and easy way to add value.
- Follow-up Immediately – Not just on all referrals you’ve been given, but also on anything you said you’d do. Thank the person who referred you with a personal note, phone call or letter. It helps if you jot down any promises you’ve made on the back of the business card, they gave you, so you remember.