If you’re like me, you are constantly looking to connect with new people and obtain new clients. No matter what industry you are in, or how well you do your job, networking is vital to your business. If you are not looking to connect with new people, finding new clients can prove difficult.
It’s not only important to attend networking events, but to have a practical game plan for each event you attend in order to get the maximum benefit from your time spent. Here are 5 tips to consider get the most from any networking event:
1. Shut Up and Listen
We have all been in the situation when we are surrounded by strangers and we want to break the ice and make a first impression. There is nothing wrong with being the first to introduce yourself but once the conversation starts you don’t always need to be doing all the talking. Your goal should be to forge positive relationships. That’s more likely to happen if the people with whom you network get the sense that you’re genuinely listening to them. Not to mention, you may actually learn a thing or two.
2. Let’s Get Personal
Even if I’m in a room full of lawyers usually the last thing anyone wants to talk about is the law. Talking only about your industry is another mistake that’s easy to make when networking. Don’t fall into this trap. You’re actually more likely to develop strong relationships if you get personal. Asking questions about their lives and engaging with them on a personal level is at least as important as talking business. Revealing personal information about yourself can help get the ball rolling. Others are more likely to reveal information about themselves if you’re willing to do so first.
3. Quality Over Quantity
Networking events are often busy. They may seem to provide many opportunities to meet people who can help your business thrive. Thus, you might believe it’s best to connect with as many people as possible during these events. This can be a mistake. You could end up speaking with so many people that you forget the important details of various interactions. Focusing on quality over quantity boosts your odds of truly connecting with others. If I make one great new connection at networking event, that’s better than meeting 10 people who I failed to really connect with.
4. Pursue the Lead
Meeting someone at a networking event is just the first step in the process of developing a relationship. Once you’ve made the initial connection, you need to follow up with them after the event. Don’t be afraid to give them a call or at the very least, send an email. Do it within a day or two of meeting. Try to mention some of the details you learned from your interaction with them. This shows the person you’re contacting that you actually took the time to listen and that you’re truly interested in forging a relationship.
5. Be Persistent
Business owners frequently attend networking events with specific goals in mind. Sometimes however those goals are not met and the experience can be perceived to be a waste of time. Not every event will reap immediate benefits, but you never know.
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