Skills for networking
As business owners, we have to get ourselves out there and network. But what really is networking? How can we make the most out of the time we spend going to events, conferences, and networking groups?
I asked some top networking experts on how to navigate and master skills for networking.
Here is what they said:
Chad Barnier from Rialba Studio:
People are people – Some people are afraid of coming off either too pushy or too shy at networking events. Keep in mind that everyone there are just normal people with similar wants and needs as you. Just treat everyone you meet like you would a friend. Being helpful, humble, and authentic will work out better in the long run than any kind of sales pitch you can dream up.
It’s not a competition – Nobody likes the loudest person in the room. Occasionally, you’ll come across the networker who’s out to “win” at networking. Make a conscious effort not to be that person..
The follow-up – I’m a big fan of the follow-up. There’s no point of going to these events if you disappear like Carmen Sandiego after you leave. If you’ve made a genuine connection with someone, make sure you shoot them an e-mail or a private message on social media thanking them for their time and asking to keep in touch. If you’re a bit handy with your online tools, you can even automate this to save you time.
Page Arnof-Fenn from Maven and Moguls:
DO: Give before you get, stop selling start listening, and find a buddy to go to the event with so you can work the room together, it makes it much more comfortable and fun. Also, check registrations online if possible and arrive early to check name tags so you know who is coming, bring plenty of business cards, and send follow-up notes to best prospects after the event.
DON’T: Monopolize people’s time or let them do it to you, chat briefly and exchange info so you can follow up after.
Paul Dillon from Dillon Consult:
The advice that I would give to anyone who wants to network is to summon up your courage and start a conversation by seeing how you might be able to help someone. Most people are appreciative of an offer of help if made sincerely and with the express intent that you will actually follow through with the offer.
It is important to think “out of the box” when looking for places to make business connections since you never know where your next job, or your next opportunity, will come from.
Anfernee Chansamooth from Simple Creative Marketing:
Focus on building partner relationships and collaborations. When you can switch your focus from how you might be fit to identifying how you might possibly help the person you’re meeting to achieve their goals, you’ll start to build productive relationships. Equally important is your ability to follow up within 24 hours (the sooner the better) and add immediate value – that could be as simple as booking a follow-up meeting or referring them to a resource that can help solve a specific challenge they’re facing.
Lori Cheek from Cheekd:
When attending networking events, I find that it’s most advantageous to go alone so that you’re forced to talk to new people. I find it wise to do your homework, in advance, and if the attendee list is publicized, to go ahead and make note of those you’d like to meet before the event. In the world of business and networking, I recommend that you never ever leave home without your most essential “old school” networking tool– your business (or calling) card. Even in the crux of the digital age, business cards are thriving for a reason– it’s still the single fastest way to share who you are, what you do and how you can be contacted.
Mireille Salloum from Business in Heels:
Networking is a great way to grow your brand, your resources, and your relationships. You will find most entrepreneurs hold relationships at the core of their business, as they foster ongoing relationships with clients, their team, the people they surround themselves with as mentors and motivators, their educators and suppliers. Networking exists in many forms from our day-to-day meetings, introductions, acquisitions, and referrals through to active networking at community events designed to connect people.
Below is your go-to guide for best practice when engaging in any form of active networking: set your goal and intention, choose the right environment, be confident in your offering, present mutually beneficial opportunities, and follow up.
Francesca from Event Emporium:
Use the data you have available to get to know your network before you even shake their hand in person. If you’re meeting customers at an event it’s vital to get into your digital data and learn about their habits, preferences and any concerns they have flagged. There’s so much information available to us, it’s smart to use what’s out there as a starting point.
Nerissa Chaux from Filtaglobal:
How to best network:
1. Attend by yourself. People are very open as generally, they are in the same boat. It also pushes you out of your comfort zone and you don’t waste the opportunity by spending the entire event chatting to your colleagues.
2. Arrive on time. It’s always great to be the first one there as you have the best opportunity of meeting everyone who comes through the door & it’s a good time to survey your surroundings.
3. Don’t wait for others to introduce themselves.
4. Be genuinely interested in others. It should be an equal 50/50 conversation.
5. Have a plan on what you’d like to achieve at the event. I always like to chat with everyone but I’m also focused on spending quality time with each person that I meet. Don’t keep looking over your shoulder when you’re with someone.
6. Lastly, make sure you have plenty of business cards! It’s surprising how many people forget to bring them.
7. Make a date to catch up 2 weeks after.
Thank you to all our guest experts for shedding light on how to really maximize our time and energy at networking events. You never know who you will meet and who that person knows…it just might be a perfect referral source or your next client!
This post was written by Ellie Heintze and originally featured on Simplify Your Practice
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