Make no mistake. Networking is a great way to meet a lot of business professionals at one time. Networking events allow people to put a face and personality to your business. But like everything, there is a right way and a wrong way.
If your networking persona is amiss you risk wasting your time and worse, wasting someone else’s. Follow these 10 guidelines to maximize and polish your networking efforts.
1. Be prepared. Bring a lot of business cards and stash them where you can easily retrieve them.
2. Arrive 5 minutes early. It will give you some time to relax.
3. Have a goal. Do you want two, three or five new contacts? Remember, a contact isnot simply introducing yourself, talking about your business, and then forking over a businesscard.
4. Rehearse your elevator speech beforehand.
5. Make the effort to go over to and say hello to new people, they are nervous as well.
6. Listen to people and their conversations and encourage synergy.
7. Take notes on the back of their business card, what you talked about, interesting facts about the person and so on.
8. Collect cards. Keep cards from those you think can assist your business and those you can help (pass along a referral, a book, etc.) People remember good deeds.
9. Have a plan with the contacts you made. At a minimum follow-up with an email or phone call and remind them how much you enjoyed speaking with them. Or, offer to meet for coffee, take it to the next level to learn more about them.
10. Have fun with it, be happy and ask great questions.
How about you? What’s your favorite thing about networking events? What about your least?