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21 Steps You Must Take for Your Upcoming Networking Event
Network for Quality Not Quantity
Your annual networking event is rapidly approaching, and you are becoming increasingly nervous about being in a room full of people with whom you are not familiar. How do you communicate? What is the best time to pitch your speech? Should you take the initiative to extend your hand for a handshake first, or should you wait for them to make the first move?
To begin with, inhale deeply. Calm down and realize that many other people are nervous too. Keep in mind that you are a person first and a business owner second. It is to your benefit to remember that the mixer provides a chance to meet people, rather than a chance to sell products.
1. Try to listen at least as much as you speak. It is critical to remain focused on your objective — to make contact with those who can assist in improving your business. Keep these 21 tips at the ready for the next event you attend.
2. Take an interest in the conversation – many people will introduce themselves, pass you their business cards and tell you about their products – focus on the conversation without letting your mind wander.
3. Smile – it isn’t unusual for people to forget to smile when they are anxious.
4. Maintaining eye contact is critical, especially with extraneous noise in the room, drinks and other things that are happening around you.
5. Ask questions about them and their area of expertise. People enjoy talking about themselves, but they love to discuss their products and businesses even more. If you don’t want to forget a particular person, jot down a note about him for yourself.
6. Be assertive – there is no place for bashfulness. If you have to fake it, then do so, but show others that you have confidence in both your business and yourself.
7. Although nervousness may cause you to speak softly or may cause your voice to squeak, be sure to speak assertively when chatting with peers.
8. Carefully choose those with whom you converse – people of various backgrounds will be present; you don’t want to take a lot of time conversing with an IT expert if you have a baking business.
9. Before you attend, know your purpose – what is your reason for attending? Relate. Look into. Form Partnerships.
10. Focus on making quality contacts rather than worrying about the quantity of contacts – the reason for the networking event is to make connections with complementary businesses that will be mutually beneficial in the future, not the number of business cards you can gather.
11. Exchange business cards – after you introduce yourself, provide your contact details.
12. Follow up right away – pen those thank yous right away. Refer to the event, jog their memory as to your identity and the things you discussed, and schedule a follow-up meeting.
13. What can you offer to increase their community and fan base? Ask them what steps you can take to help them build their community – this allows you to identify any services or referrals you may be able to provide.
14. Is there a skill you can teach them? – This goes hand in hand with inquiring as to their niche and ways in which you can aid them in increasing their fan base – highlight a skill you possess, such as making speeches, interviewing for a podcast or letting them pen a guest blog.
15. Avoid pushiness – Relax. Avoid pushing your offerings. Although this is a networking event, please understand that attendees are interested in making connections that have a positive impact on their business; they aren’t necessarily interested in additional products. Don’t give your 30-second pitch until they request additional information following your introduction.
16. Provide an introduction to your brand and top product. Briefly introduce yourself, along with your brand and your top product. What are the ways in which your product can meet their needs? – Once they have explained their niche and their needs, jot down a note as to how you can meet their needs with your product. (It is best to do this on the reverse side of the person’s business card.) Now is not the time to regale them with your pitch.
17. Shake hands – introduce yourself and shake hands simultaneously. Doing this gets the formality out of the way and breaks the ice.
18. Initiate a tweet – Did you just engage in an enlightening discussion with an individual? Tell people about it in a tweet. Make mention of their business and note how thrilled you are to become acquainted with them.
19. Make a connection with a minimum of five people – You are sure to meet many more individuals than you will be able to follow up with. Focus on making a connection with only five people that you are sure will work well as potential partners. These are the individuals with whom you will follow-up for other meetings.
20. Exude confidence, even if you are a bundle of nerves on the inside. It is helpful to rehearse questions prior to the event and to have a good idea as to the qualities you seek in a client or business associate.
21. Have a heart – This doesn’t need further explanation, does it? Keep in mind that you are relating to people rather than numbers and sales.
The purpose of a networking event is to provide you with connections to people to help further your business, not to secure sales. You are sure to form numerous valuable partnerships as long as you keep your goals in sight and you utilize the preceding 21 tips.