Going to networking events can be fun, especially but it's important that you make good use of your time while you are there. Here are six golden rules to follow to help you do just that.
Rule #1. Have a Purpose
That sounds pretty basic but it will save you a lot of time and energy if you have a purpose to your networking. Your purpose could be to meet new prospective clients, to be "seen" amongst the movers and shakers of your industry or to connect with possible joint venture partners. Depending on the event it could be all three! Perhaps you are looking for a coach, mentor or service provider to help you move your business forward. The main thing is to be clear about why you are there.
Rule #2. Be Selective
Because going to networking events can be fun, it's very tempting to accept every opportunity but you can't afford to do that. Being selective means being clear about who you want to connect with and identifying where those people are. If you don't prioritize, you could end up in all the wrong places. Worse still ,you could miss out on being where you really need to be to make the valuable connections you are seeking.
Check your opportunities against your criteria and ask yourself - is this a good use of my time?
Rule #3. Set an Intention
Rule #3. Set an Intention
Before you head out the door, set an intention. What you want to get out of the networking function?On an energetic level, when you begin mingling you'll automatically attract the people who are looking for you. Conversations will come easily and you will have more chance of finding a match than having no clear intention or outcome in mind.
Rule #4. Quality not Quantity
There is no need to talk to every person in the room. In fact that is one of the big mistakes people make. There's simply not enough time. Your purpose is to make meaningful connections with the people you intend to meet so focus on quality and not quantity.
Look around and get a feel for who you want to meet and approach them. Take your time, introduce yourself and be inquisitive. Ask questions and wait for the answers - then ask another question. If you like what you hear, spend more time to develop the conversation. If not, politely move on.
At the same time be careful not to monopolise someone just because you do established a rapport. If you are really hitting it off then suggest you spend some more time together and pull out your diary and make a time. Meanwhile you can both continue to mingle.
Rule #5. Swap Business Cards
Some people go to all the trouble of attending a business networking event and don't take any business cards! Don't be one of them. Make sure you leave home with a stack of business cards and be generous in exchanging them with the people who you meet. My tip is to have two pockets in the outfit you wear. One loaded with your cards and another to put the cards of your new acquaintances into so you don't get them mixed up!
It's also a great idea to have your picture on your business card so people can recall your face and put a face to the name when you contact them.
Rule #6. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
The way to maximize the results from all the time and effort you have made in your face-to-face
is to follow up. Make contact in whatever way you like but make contact! An email or, better still, a card or note through the snail mail will be appreciated. And not just to sell them something!
Remember: even though you have met in person you should also connect on common Social Media platforms as well. Send a LinkedIn invitation, Twitter tweet or Facebook friend request. This will broaden the opportunity to share about yourself ongoing as well as learn more about them. This will deepen the relationship must faster than you can imagine.
Business should be fun so have a good time with your face-to-face networking but always remember your purpose is to make connections and build relationships. Don't leave empty handed.
By Kathleen Ann
Photography by Johnny Magnussen
Small business marketing expert Kathleen Ann is the "Marketing Champion for small Business and entrepreneurs." As a Certified Money, Marketing and Soul Coach Kathleen delivers breakthrough marketing strategies so heart-centered entrepreneurs can Brand, Package and Price their services to quickly create more money, time and freedom in their business. For free articles, free resources and to sign up for her free audio and transcript "7 Must Know Secrets to Business Branding Success", essential Branding strategies to help you attract qualified ideal clients in droves, visit http://www.powerupyourmarketing.com.