Successful Networking: Just be Quiet!

Let’s face it, networking for your business can sometimes be compared to root canal. It can be costly, time consuming and fairly painful if you’re
not armed with the proper skills and know-how. I mean, uggh, starting conversations with complete strangers, in a crowd, over appetizers.
“Shoot me,” right?
Well, it doesn’t have to feel like a bad singles dating event. Here are a few tips for successful networking every time:
  1. Set a goal for yourself before you go. Maybe you want to meet 20 new people, out of which you will have at least 10 somewhat meaningful conversations, out of which maybe 5 are interesting prospects for follow-up. Just when you get stuck in the crowd and think you can’t talk to one more person, you remember your goal and keep going – one person at a time. You never know who that “one last person” will be.
  2. Have an intriguing and SHORT line that describes what you do, which includes a question for the person you are talking to. For example, as a business coach, I might say “I help executives and teams get from where they are to where they want to be. So, tell me about some of your business goals and challenges right now.” People LOVE to talk about themselves – so let them. Don’t BE them. Got it? Your goal is to be the listener as much as possible. It’s way more effective, and a lot less tiring by the end of the event.
  3. Walk the fine line. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try and sell people in a networking event. Your whole goal is to gather information and build relationships.
  4. Collect business cards. Do not focus on handing them out. If you are trying to build your business by sitting around waiting for people to contact you from your business card, you will be frustrated, bored, lonely and broke in no time. Collect cards, write a note on the back of each one with one important thing you talked to that person about and the location and date of the event. You think you will remember, but you probably won’t. Now YOU are in the drivers seat for following up and setting up future meetings.
  5. Have a simple system. Maybe you have a CRM. Maybe you have an email marketing program already with a mailing list. And then again, maybe you don’t. No excuses either way. Have a place where you put new business cards. It can literally be a bowl from your kitchen for now.
  6. Follow up, follow up, follow up! Within 24-48 hours after an event, send each person a personalized, yet short, email stating something important they talked about during your conversation with them (refer to your notes on the back of their card). Make and offer to get together for coffee or a phone call to learn more about them and their business.