This post was originally published on The Business Woman Media
OK, are you sitting down ‘cause I have a confession to make…ready… I actually like networking! There, I’ve said it. It’s weird I know, but it’s true!
I really like getting my game face on and going out there amongst the people – in fact I do it at least 3 times a week and I’ve recently taken on a leadership position within BxNetworking to take it up a notch.
Now I’m not saying it’s easy, you always have to be ‘on’, you always have to be willing to mix it up and sometimes I do get that affliction suffered by many power networkers – Smile Cheek Fatigue. Yep, it’s a thing.
BUT if you think of your network as your networth then it all becomes very worthwhile indeed.
Have a look below at some tips and hints I have for not only networking like a pro, but enjoying yourself as well.
1. Networking is about people, not end goals.
If you hit the room with the sole purpose of only making a sale, snaffling a customer or touting your product then you’ve kinda missed the point. A networking event is a chance for you to build a relationship with real, live people. Once you have built a strong foundation based on a relationship that’s when the magic happens. They refer you to their entire network, who in turn refer you to their network and like ripples in a pond so it goes on. This is the time to give of yourself, not take what you can..
2. With that said though – nail your elevator pitch.
Don’t waffle on with half-baked ideas and nebulous stories. Be totally on point with who you are, what you can bring to the party, what solutions you offer to problems that customers are experiencing. And top of the list in importance is believe in yourself. If you’re nervous or not 100% sure about it is you’re doing/offering then it stands out big time. Practise what you want to say and practise it so well you could say it in your sleep…but with feeling of course!
3. It’s not all about you…sorry.
If you simply try to sell, sell, sell me something I swear I will turn on my heel and you’ll have to hunt me down by the wine bar. You have to listen to what others are saying – really listen. Don’t forget you’re all at a NETWORKING event…all of you. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone is trying to make good connections, everyone wants to be heard.
4. Get yourself a Wing Wo/Man.
Hook up with a power partner who will ride shotgun with you to different events. Make sure they share similar goals to you but preferably aren’t in exactly the same industry where you rule the roost. It’s more fun striding into a room full of faces with someone you know, they can help you meet different folks and sometimes you just need to take a moment out of the fray and share an eye roll with someone who also thinks that the chap pitching solar panels for dog kennels is completely craycray!
5. Be in it for the long game. You have to keep going to events – simple as that. Sometimes you’ll leave an event and feel that was the biggest train wreck you’ve ever witnessed. Sometime things get “interesting’ with totally out there keynote speakers or competing industry people get all up in each other’s faces. Don’t let it faze you. Book yourself in for the next event. The best things in my business have all been the outcome of networking events. New clients, regular sales, amazing collaborations and best of all…new friends, stronger relationships and truly robust networks.
6. Some traps for young players. Make sure you work that room. Sure, it’s easier to chat away with people you know but seriously how is that expanding your network? Mix it up!
You are a walking billboard for your brand. Dress consistently to represent your brand. I personally am a comedian, a podcaster and social media guru – you won’t find me at an event in a buttoned down jacket with sensible heels because that’s not who I am! Always represent yourself as the living embodiment of your brand.
The event may have finished but your follow ups should just be starting. Repeat this three times so you don’t forget. Follow. Up. Your.Contacts. I find Infusionsoft works a treat for me but even if you use your own email the key point here is make sure the contact doesn’t stop the minute you leave the hustle and bustle of the event.
Now go out and there a build yourself a network!