In person networking is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding opportunities to grow your business. But many entrepreneurs invest their time and money without getting the results they expect – often because they have no clear expectations. If you find yourself turning up at networking events and leaving with the feeling that you’ve wasted your time, not to mention your money, then take a look at my 10 hot networking tips before you head out the door to your next event.
Networking tip #1
Get clear about your ideal client and niche aka target market
Before you even begin networking you absolutely must be clear about who you want to attract as a client. Simple but true – you have to fish where the fish are. Just the same it’s amazing how many people are trying to reach their ideal clients in a room full of people who will never need or want to buy from them.
Networking tip #2
Prepare your 30 second introduction message aka elevator speech
Some events have a formal structure to introduce yourself and often it’s as short as 30 seconds or 1 minute. Be prepared! With such a short amount of time you must make every word count.
Include your name and company, who you help (describe their problem) and what you do for them (that relates to their problem) and most importantly, what results they get from working with you. Then you’ll get the attention and interest of anyone on your wave-length and that’s enough – for now.
Networking tip #3
Research the live networking opportunities available in your vicinity
Once you know who you want to meet up with, the next step is to find the meetings and events in your locality where they hang out. Often you can attend as a visitor and become a member if it works out.
Do not waste your time where the group is so general it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. That will only lead to frustration and missed opportunity because you could have been somewhere else more rewarding.
Networking tip #4
Plan and schedule your attendance at events
Look at networking as one of your key marketing strategies and once you’ve identified the venues or groups you want to mix in then block the time to attend.
Remember, this is an ongoing strategy so it’s not a race to see how many events you can turn up to. Rather it’s more about the quality of the time you invest in finding the right relationships to create and nurture.
So be selective and pace yourself so you don’t burn out.
Networking tip #5
Set an intention
Before you even leave your office set the intention you have for attending the event. It could be to find a new client, meet a possible JV partner or promote an upcoming event of your own and get a specific number of people interested in that.
Whatever it is, you must have one – an intention that is. Otherwise you will find yourself floating around with no focus on what you want to achieve from being there. It’s amazing how setting the intention will influence the outcome. So be specific and your actions will support your intent.
Networking tip #6
Take your business cards
Amex said it first “don’t leave home without it” and it’s an absolute must to have a card or other means to leave your details with prospective clients. But when it comes to your business card I don’t recommend you hand them out unless someone asks for it.
That may seem controversial but how many times are you given a card you have no interest in and no intention of following up.
And when someone does ask for your card – offer them two – one for them, and one to pass onto a friend or colleague. If they are interested, they are bound to have contacts who would be interested as well.
Networking tip #7
Arrive early – leave late
Once you’ve decided to invest your time and money to attend a live networking event you may as well get there early and be prepared to leave late.
Getting to an event early let’s you meet the organisers without the crowd so you can introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have of them. Like what speaking or workshop opportunities they may have or who else might be attending. As well as some quality time with other early arrivers.
Then if you really click with someone you can linger afterwards without having to rush off and risk losing an ideal opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
Networking tip #8
Don’t feel like you have to ‘work’ the room
What I mean by this is, do not attempt to talk to as many people in the room as possible. It’s much more productive to stick with your preset intention of who you want to connect with and what outcome you want. So when you’re in front of the right person be satisfied and stay in that conversation until it’s concluded.
Naturally you should move on – without guilt – if there’s no match up. You’ll be serving the other person as well because they’ll also be free to mingle.
Networking tip #9
Relax and enjoy yourself
Now while I’m a firm believer in having a strategy and a plan with a set intention, once you’ve got all that in place it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself.
Networking isn’t hard work if you’re well prepared and all the benefits from getting out there will flow to you if you are having a good time. The more authentic and natural you are the more attractive you will be. So trust in getting your intention delivered and simply go with the flow.
Networking tip #10
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. If you invest all the time and money to get out there and network and don’t follow up with the potential clients or connections you make then it’s all been for nothing. The good news is you’re in control so that’s entirely up to you!
Build my 10 tips into your in person networking and you should see get more results out of the time and money you invest because it will show up as more business opportunities and more clients. Plus you’ll have a whole lot more fun!