Yes, You Can Be a Better Networker
Networking Best Practice: Just Get Out There
It is January, and all you want to do is stay curled up by the fire with a hot bowl of soup. As appealing as that sounds, you can’t just wait for the spring thaw if you hope for a great 2017.
So even though it is cold out there, you need to bundle up and attend a few networking events this month. Phone calls and social media are fine, but if you really want to kick off the year, you need to go out where the people are.
While that sounds like a fun way to spend a cold winter morning (I really enjoy meeting new people), I know not everyone loves walking into a room full of strangers.
Networking Best Practice: Listen More
After you get past the initial trepidation and you are involved in a conversation with someone at a networking event, what’s the next step? If you want to make the most of the conversation, listen more and talk less. That sounds like strange advice when you are out on the street trying to meet new people to sell to, but hear me out. You aren’t going to make a sale over rubber chicken or stale danish. The best you can hope for coming out of an event is an invitation for a longer conversation with a qualified prospect or referral source.
If you have spent most of the time talking about you and your business you have no idea if the person is really a good fit. Instead develop a very short overview of your business that you can deliver easily when asked “what do you do?” Then spend the rest of the time asking questions and learning more about the people with whom you are speaking.
Networking Best Practice: Follow Up Quickly
A conversation at the networking event is the first step. When you get to your office follow up. Dash off a quick email note, or reach out on social media, particularly LinkedIn or Twitter. Be sure to remind people how they met you. If it was a large event they may not remember every conversation. It will take time to move from a random conversation to a viable business relationship.
Don’t jump too quickly into sales mode, sending promotional brochures or adding someone you just met to your newsletter. Start slowly with an informal note or an invitation to coffee. It will take awhile, but if you listened closely in the first conversation the follow up time will be worth while.
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