I previously included a speech that I did at Toastmasters, here is another speech that I feel is a big part of small businesses.
When you hear the word “networking” do you cringe or do you get excited for the opportunity? When speaking to someone about networking it seems like there is 2 common responses 1) Sure, I love attending networking events and meeting new people or 2) No way I HATE having to make small talk and approach people I don’t know. When it comes to networking what type of person are you? Do you love it or hate it?
The term “networking” is defined as: interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career. Networking is the art and science of building professional relationships, but few of us are naturals at it. There are many excellent reasons to network: to expand your client base, develop business partnerships, find a better job or find some better workers. The more people you meet, the larger your network and the greater the odds of finding the best customers, partners, employers or employees. At least that’s what we’ve been told.
I personally love networking events and can vouch that it has personally worked for me. Since I’m not a fan of cold calling I decided when I started my company in September 2014 that I would attend as many networking events as possible. Attending 3-4 networking events a week got me in front of new potential clients and gave me the confidence and motivation to grow my company. Aside from gaining new clients I have also made some great business connections and even better friends. I’m a very social person and love meeting new people therefore networking comes naturally to me and I strive on it.
While networking comes naturally to me I do understand that it can be difficult for some people. For that reason I did a little research and found 17 helpful tips to help you out at your next networking event. I have included a few of these below:
Find the bar! Whether you are drinking or not, it’s a great idea to position yourself at or near the bar. This makes it easy to start a conversation with someone else waiting in line.
Be yourself. If you can’t be yourself, you’ll be starting off these new relationships with a lie. Don’t try to be who you think others want to meet. Be the person that you truly are and people will want to make long lasting relationships with you.
Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, understand what you are there to do. Is your goal to meet five new people? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make a plan prior to attending event.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Start by trying out a few different groups and see which ones work out for you and continue to attend these specific events. You’ll find that networking is a lot more fun when you become a regular. People will sing your praises to new attendees and you’ll see lots of familiar faces.
Introduce yourself to the organizer. A great way to get to know more about an organization is to find the event organizer and introduce yourself. He/she can introduce you to other attendees to get you off on the right foot.
Treat people like friends.Would you go to a friend, interrupt his/her conversation, hand over a business card, talk about yourself and then walk away? You wouldn’t so don’t do it at a networking event.
Ask great questions. The only way to get to know someone else is to ask them genuine and thoughtful questions. It’s always best to walk away from a conversation having allowed the other person to speak more than you did.
Consider their network. When meeting people, it’s important to remember that even if they can’t help you directly, they may know someone who can.
Don’t be a card spammer. The closest thing to you throwing all of your business cards away is handing them out to anyone and everyone you meet without them asking. If you haven’t built enough rapport with someone to encourage them to ask for your card, don’t offer one.
Ask yourself why they should care. Consider why the person you’re speaking to should care about what you’re saying. Why should they take time to talk to you as oppose to the other people in the room? What benefits can you offer them?
Do NOT “work the room.” Don’t try to meet as many people as possible in a room; focus on making just a few solid contacts. People can sense when you’re simply speaking with them to grab their card and go.
Now that you have the proper tips do you feel ready for your next networking event? Or are you still scared? If you are still scared bring a buddy or better yet join me at my next networking event!
Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for. – Christine Comaford-Lynch
Have a great week everyone!