It’s a new year (duh) which means it’s time to set new goals for yourself and your business. One thing you can do which will positively impact both is networking. Networking is a great way to build brand awareness and make new business connections, but you probably already knew that. Here are some easy tips to help put networking at the top of your to-do list for 2015.
Define Your Goals
Don’t go into a networking event without a plan. In an ideal world it would be great if you could just stroll into an event and talk to every person in the room and make tons of valuable connections by the end of the event. But alas, we live in the real world and that’s just not going to happen.
Create some goals for yourself ahead of time. How many people do you want to talk to? How many business cards do you want to leave with? Give yourself some reasonable and achievable goals before you go to your event. If you walk into your event knowing you want to leave with three business cards from three promising connections, you’ll be more determined to spend your time wisely, instead of wandering around the event with no plan at all.
Avoid Group Conversations
Don’t get me wrong, group conversations are nice, but you really want to spend your time at networking events speaking one-on-one with individuals. There is a lot of chatter and a lot of people dying to be heard in group conversations. You don’t want to spend half of your time at an event trying to talk over four other people.
If you’re unsure about who to talk to at your event, start in a group, then branch out when you find someone who you’d like to get to know better. You can kindly pull someone aside if you think you’d like to learn more about them.
Look for individuals who aren’t talking to anyone. Strike up a conversation with them and if the connection isn’t right, direct them to a group which might be beneficial to them.
Spend More Time Listening
The key to getting the most out of a networking event is to listen more than you talk. Yes, the point of networking events is to make connections, but if you spend all your time talking about yourself how will you know if anyone you’re talking to is a good connection? You won’t.
Instead of talking, ask a lot of questions. Come up with a list of general questions you can ask anyone in any industry to help you learn more about them. Think of some more niche questions if you know certain people you want to network with will be there. This will help you decide if someone is a good business contact. Remember, if someone isn’t a good fit for you, you can always refer them to a friend or business contact who might be.
Start the new year off with a new attitude towards networking. These easy to follow tips will help you make the most out of any event you attend in 2015. Build brand awareness and business contacts by embracing the power of networking this year, you’ll be glad you did.