5 Ways to Funk up Your Networking at Your Next Event
Making Excuses and Not Showing Up
Showing up is half the battle of not ruining your networking efforts. With the new era of technology and social networking, it’s easy to get trapped into hiding behind your keyboard. The truth is face-to-face communications still carries more weight than email and social networking. Plus, events can be an efficient way to meet a large number of potential contacts in a short time. If this is you, stop making excuses and get out there and meet some new people.
Not Being Mentally Prepared
For my extroverts, you are always mentally prepared to talk and mingle with people. It’s in our nature. For my introverts, this may take a little more effort. Write down why you’re in business. Remember why you got started in the first place and what you wanted to achieve professionally and personally. My why was always to get my daughter through college. Hold on to the strength of your “why” and use it to push yourself. Regardless if you’re an introvert or extrovert, rehearse your lines. Practice your elevator pitch and some relevant small talk. You need to be able to introduce yourself confidently and interestingly. It also helps to have a few subjects on hand that you can discuss to build rapport.
Missing the Opportunity to Meet Your Next Potential Client
I was hosting an event recently, and I stopped to introduce two of the attendees, both who could have mutually benefited from each other. However, the business owner who could have benefited from the introduction was a perfect example of messing up your networking efforts. Once I made the intro, the business owner said, “we are sitting next to each other, so I’m sure we will have time to talk.” The business owner then proceeded to walk away, reading a brochure. That incident is what inspired me to write this article. So many business owners miss out by not mastering their networking skills.
If you are less comfortable with networking, consider starting your efforts with a more structured networking group like BNI (Business Networking International) or ACA (American Club Association). BNI is set up to allow you to introduce yourself, meet others, and exchange cards in a structured format. ACA’s team is trained to be your advocate and personally connect you with others in the room, so you never feel alone.
Only Being Interested in Yourself
Master networkers are more interested in others. They don’t attend a networking event and vomit all of their products and services on others. Master networkers focus on giving. Effective networking is based on being generous. Potential contacts are more likely to welcome your interest if you’re thinking about what you can do for them. Ask questions and genuinely be interested in the person you are speaking with at your networking event.
Not Taking Action
It’s not enough to go to a networking event, meet a bunch of people, gather a lot of cards, and let them pile up on your desk. You need to see it through. Any event can be productive if you take strategic action with the contacts you just made. That might mean sending them an article or inviting them out for coffee. Reach out to your contact as soon as possible, so your last conversation will be fresh in their mind. You’ll make a positive impression, and their interest may still be high.