1. Don’t think of it as networking think of it as meeting friends. Take the fear out of it, make it about meeting friends. Relax and let natural curiosity take over, you like this person and you want to find out more about them.
2. Set a goal for yourself. When I leave today I will have met and understand 3 people or companies that will be able to assist me, and 3 businesses will have asked me for information on how I can help them
3. Prepare for the event / function. Identify potential contacts. The goal is to make contacts and build a business network of people who can and will identify with you as potential assistance to them. You do not have to aim for the “power” players in the room immediately. They are the target that everyone is after. Work the group, build positive contacts who can even introduce you to someone you need.
4. Tackle the smaller groups first. A large group can be daunting. Smaller groups will allow you to communicate openly and build confidence and trust.
5. Be a listener not a talker. Networking is not about dominating a group, its about understanding the group. Listen more than talk is the best motto.
6. Bait the hook – a short shape pitch that sells. Have a snapshot about who you are and what you offer that could be delivered in 30 seconds. That’s all you have, and you need people to understand what you offer to them. This is not a sales pitch this is about what you offer. The networking event is not about picking up sales, but you need people you connect with to remember what you do and what you can offer.
7. Follow up. If you collect card sat the event, send a personalized email or note to each contact. Thank them for their time. If you offered to come back to them with more detail do so immediately. Let no more than 24hours pass, lest you are forgotten. Follow-up with a call or email, you need to keep the relationship alive and growing.
8. Remember your manners – be relaxed, polite and interesting. Remember, the key to networking is giving. Give information, give advice, give your services, and give your personality, and you’ll be well on your way to forging genuine, lasting business relationships.
9. Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum. People remember the smell of alcohol on your breath, the fact that you were unsteady on your feet, or even that you seemed to be drinking steadily. Remember you need to present a positive image and professional demeanour. You can sit on a drink for an hour or two if necessary, or even nurse a coke as you have to drive.
10. Be the person to include others in the conversation when they join a group. Remember if you are in a group and someone joins, include them, you never know just how important they could be to you and others.
Good luck with your networking. If you attend these events on a regular basis, many times we gravitate to people we have dealt with previously, this can defeat the purpose of being there. If you have met people before, greet them, chat with them, but look as well for new people to build your network with. You should already have a reasonable relationship with previous contacts, if you have followed them up and continued to build the network with them.