Some people absolutely thrive on networking. They live for it, finding it the most enjoyable part of their ‘work.’ Others, find it intimidating, anxiety-provoking, awkward, and to be avoided whenever possible. it doesn’t have to be that way.
Don’t expect miracles
Networking is a process of you getting to know people and people getting to know you. You are unlikely to get immediate orders or business so don’t expect it.
Find the bar! Whether or not you’re drinking, it’s always a good idea to position yourself at the edge of the bar. People run for the bar when they get to a networking event. position yourself a few steps from the bar, you can easily strike up a conversation as people turn with drink in hand.
Its normal to be a bit nervous when meeting strangers, but remember, they are only strangers until you have met them. Say hello introduce yourself, it will put you in the driving seat and make a good impression. its always worth a session practicing in the mirror.
Try: Hi, I’m David and I work in chocolate at Coeur de Xocolat. My role has been super challenging lately because of all the new regulations around sugars. Have you been dealing with that, too?
and Say goodbye.
Sometimes, even when you’ve met someone interesting, the time comes when you’re ready to peruse the rest of the event. This is a great time to hand out one of those business cards burning a hole in your pocket.
Try: Steve, it was really a pleasure speaking with you. I'm going to take a look at some of the other exhibits here, but if I don't run into you later, I hope to see you at another event soon.
Hold your head up high.
There’s nothing worse than someone who does not have confidence in what they do. Be proud of who you are and your business.
The only way to get to know someone else is to ask them genuine and thoughtful questions. It’s always best to walk away from a conversation having allowed the other person to speak more than you did. Not only will they feel great about the conversation, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about him/her, helping you plan and execute your follow-up more thoughtfully.
Two ears one mouth.
Take in everything you see and hear from others you talk to (or overhear). Show an interest in other people stories don’t argue or criticise other people’s points of view.
Don’t be a card buisness card spammer.
If you haven’t built enough rapport with someone to encourage them to ask for your card, don’t offer one.
The person you are talking to is always more important than you.
Take an interest in the other person and get to know them and their situation. Ask questions but don’t pry and take an interest in the answers.
Value the connections you make.
Understand the value of your new contacts might not be realised in the short term but over time. Guard your new relationships and cultivate them carefully.
When you ask for someone's card after having a great conversation, take notes on their business card after they walk away or immediately after the event. This will help you to be more specific in your follow-up.
Follow up meetings
by adding on social media make sure you ask during your meeting
Extend your networking event with social media.
If the event has a twtter feed or # use it and link tell people who you met and why they might be of use to others – share your contacts and they will do the same for you.
Networking with new people doesn’t have to be daunting , see it as a necessary evil. Go into networking with that attitude and it won’t produce anything for you. Pick and choose the networking events you attend and attend with a smile and an open mind and you will get results, though probably not immediately. Above all, enjoy the process.