Feeling confident but wanting to fine tune that next networking opportuniy, here's 5 tips to make that next event a success
You are only five steps away from success
Networking events are held in all major cities, suburban areas and regional towns. They exist because networking is one of the most effective ways of developing business contacts and alliances. However, after attending numerous networking events with little or no results you may be asking yourself whether it’s worth the effort.
But remember: There is a lot more to attending networking events than simply ‘turning up’.
Attending a networking event takes time, money and effort, so here are some suggestions that may make your next function more productive and enjoyable.
- Arrive early – Check venue times and travel arrangements and allow plenty of time to get there. On arrival, take a moment to compose yourself. Then enter the reception area and begin networking prior to the event’s formal commencement. Arriving early makes plenty of sense because it is easier to enter a room containing a few people than it is to confront a crowd. Introduce yourself to people standing by themselves; they are probably just as nervous as you.
- Mingle – If you attend with friends or work colleagues, split up! You are there to meet new people. It is amazing how many people waste their time, energy and money at networking events talking to people they already know. If a table has been reserved for your group, ask to be assigned to different tables to create greater networking opportunities. Meet your friends at the end of the event to discuss connections and follow-up strategies.
- Conversation is essential – Break the ice by preparing a few conversation-openers. Stay up-to-date with current events by skimming the newspaper each day for the major headlines to ensure there are no awkward ‘silent’ moments. And remember: Approach people with a smile and they will welcome you.
- It’s not the time to sell – Rather, it is the time to build rapport. Try and connect with two to three people only; it is impossible to have a quality conversation with everybody in the room. Don’t try to cram everything into your first conversation. Remember, you are both there to network, so if you connect with someone, arrange a time to contact them and follow-up. Then move on.
- The best networkers are the best listeners – Learn to listen. Ask open-ended questions, such as “What’s your opinion on..?” or “Can you tell me more about what you do?” Concentrate on what the other person is saying. Don’t worry about your next statement; you are there to learn about them, not talk about yourself. By asking questions and listening attentively, you may find they need your product or service.
Like all worthy pursuits, networking takes time, effort and practice. It’s not always easy and it can have its frustrations, but let’s face it, the vast majority of people shy away from having to exert themselves.
This is where you can build yourself an advantage: Networking, in time, will reveal its rewards. Just be patient and remember to take The Five Steps.