Ok so you’ve decided to take the plunge and kick your networking into high-gear. Good for you. Here’s some quick tips and tricks to remember to make your networking more effective.
Identify where you should go. All venues are not right for all people. You owe it to yourself to do your research and find the venues that make sense for your business.
Develop open-ended questions.You can use these to ignite a conversation. Try to find unique questions. Don’t ask the same old “so what do you do” question if you can help it.
Attend events with a plan. Always try to learn something new. This will keep you from talking too much about yourself.
Don’t forget to mingle. Are you going with someone? If so, split up once you get to the event.
Get the lay of the land. When you arrive, step to the side. Take a deep breath and scan the room. This will give you a chance to regroup and focus before you approach anyone.
Don’t sit down right away. Wait until the program begins. If there is no program, you can sit once you’ve connected with someone.
Try to sit with strangers. This is no time to stick with people you know.
Be a good Samaritan. Is there someone sitting alone? Go to them and introduce yourself. You’ll be saving their life! They are alone and nervous. You can even take them with you to mix and mingle with others.
Be present — always. When you are talking with someone, look them in the eye and really pay attention to what they are saying. You may learn something about them that tells you whether you can help them. It’s also the only way you’ll determine whether you should continue to get to know them after the event is over.
Do at least send a note. Email is so impersonal for follow-up or follow through. When was the last time you sent or received a hand written note?
Always ask for what you need. If you don’t ask all the time for what you need or explain why you’re there, you’ll run the risk of getting to a place where you never ask. Most people come to networking events expecting that you need something. Obviously that’s the same reason they are there.
Follow up! If someone gives you a referral, treat it like gold. You want to be sure that you follow up on it right away. Imagine how you’ll make the other person feel if they refer you to someone and you don’t follow up in a timely manner. It won’t make them want to refer you again. It takes time to build relationships with the people in your referral group. Don’t destroy that trust by failing to take a referral seriously.
Share information. People love to learn things. Use social networking as a way to share relevant information with other people. When you share your expertise on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more, you show your relevancy and position yourself as a subject matter expert.
Tell people why you want to connect with them. Don’t use the standard connection script if you can help it. If they aren’t your closest friends, you want to give them a reason for accepting your connection request.
Be as helpful as you can. Whenever you can connect people or help someone with a question jump in and do it.