Love it or hate it, business networking events are necessary in creating leads, growing professional relationships with other companies, and simply getting your name out there. We are going to look at some of the best practices to make the most of your time and get best results when you are attending business networking events.
Get rid of the elevator speech
Up until recently, people were using the “elevator speech” as a means to sell themselves to other entrepreneurs in a short amount of time. The problem with that is people end up blasting each other with information instead of actually networking. Potential customers and professional relationships alike are more willing to engage with people who know how to listen and who can hold a conversation of quality, not quantity. So stop trying to be a 30 second sales pitch and start networking as a human being.
There is no need to work the room
While there is a business networking theory that says anyone is a potential sales lead, there is no reason to meet everyone at the networking event. Firstly, you will spend a lot of time getting very little across to others. Secondly, it is a waste of time networking with people who cannot relate to your business. For example, there is no reason why a business owner specializing in diamond lathes to try and network with mobile game developers. Take your time to assess the crowd at the networking event, and home in on those potentially high-quality connections.
Connect the dots
Every person you meet at a networking event has a few degrees of separation from the others. When networking, keep a mental list of who you meet, what they do, and what they are seeking. Business networking relationships are sometimes built on the person who brings two people together over common interests. Never overlook the power of matchmaking in business networking.
Asking questions is how you learn about others and their business. Networking is not about standing around and hoping for good information, nor is it about pretending to know everything. By asking questions, not only will you gain knowledge from people, but they will find you engaging, which makes for the start of a great networking relationship.
Just like with the elevator speech, people tend to avoid others who are either too rigid or too much like a slick used car salesperson. The best thing you can do at a networking event is be yourself. Act like you would in the office, or when meeting with actual clients at a lunch meeting. Be comfortable, engaging, and people will be networking with you in no time.