Most people I know really hate going to networking events.
And I must admit, I’ve had some bizzaro networking experiences at times myself.
Not long ago I was at a networking mixer and was getting a glass of wine.
(I just love events where there’s plenty of food and plenty of wine.)
And as I turned around, I nearly smacked right into a couple of guys with the name of a famous sign company embroidered right on their shirts.
And since I was preparing to do my first sponsorship at an event, I was very much in need of some signage for my booth.
Glory hallalujah! It was my lucky day!
So I asked if they could help me.
“Sure,” they said “Just call us.”
But they didn’t ask me my name. Nor did they ask for my card.
They didn’t ask me for anything so that in case I didn’t call them, they could call me.
That would be called “following up.”
I’ve had similar experiences recently where I’ve requested information and I got it.
BUT then, there was absolutely no follow-up whatsoever.
(I’ll be sharing some great follow-up tips in a future post, so stay tuned for that.)
Finding your ideal clients (or those who know your ideal clients) at a networking event and getting to know them better is what I call “clicking.”
Here are my best networking tips for “clicking” with everyone you meet:
1. Be interested instead of interesting. This means be interested in the other person and not worry about trying to get them interested in you.
They’ll find out how cool you are at the right time.
2. Volunteer. Whatever organization you belong to that hosts networking events will likely welcome you as a goodwill ambassador or diplomat.
This means you get to be the one to sign people in, to greet folks as they arrive, or to mingle in your “official” capacity.
This makes it a lot easier to break the ice with other members and attendees.
And if your group does not have a formal “diplomat” program, start one yourself.
3. Ask for their card. Even if this person may not be an ideal prospect for you, get their card anyway.
Then you can send a note to them reminding them that you met and that you enjoyed getting to know them.
You never know where business will come from and they’ll remember the person that sends them a note.
Ideally, if you can send a note through the postal mail, do that. If not, an email will suffice.
4. Ask for their card: Part 2. If you ask for their card they will likely ask for yours.
Just know that the ball is in your court when it comes to following up. Never leave it up to them.
5. Go for quality, not quantity. Networking is not a numbers game. Even though you will often be told that getting as many business cards as possible at an event ups your odds of ultimately getting business, it doesn’t.
While I think it is a great idea to connect with as many people as you can, spending more quality time in conversation with just 2 or 3 people and getting to know them is better than trying to get to everyone in the room.
6. Provide a door prize. One of the best ways to get recognition from everyone in the room is to provide a door prize.
Make it one that relates to your business if you can. Like the chiropractor who gives away an exam, or the financial guy who provides a one hour consultation, or samples of the products you sell.
(Remind me to tell you one day about the $20 tube of shampoo.)
But if you can’t do that, then give something of value like a nice bottle of wine, movie tickets, show tickets, baskets of fruit, or a nice box of chocolate.
7. Find out who won your door prize. Then get in touch with them to encourage them to redeem your prize.
Write a note, send an email, call them on the phone. Make that connection.
(Are you getting the idea that personal communication in the form of handwritten anything gets you more recognition?)
8. Send a thank you note if you win a door prize. Most people do not. They just take their prize and run.
If you acknowledge your appreciation for the prize, you will not be forgotten!
I had someone tell me recently that mine was the first thank you note they had ever gotten from a door prize winner.
9. Introduce yourself to the group. The networking group I belong to always gives anyone who wants to the opportunity to promote their business to the whole group.
Take advantage of this. You want to be noticed. And, often, once people learn what you do, they will come up and introduce themselves and start a relationship.
10. Follow-up! It does no good to go to an event if you don’t follow up with the folks you meet.
So, follow-up with everyone you meet.
Send them a special handwritten, note or letter, send an email, send a copy of your newsletter, a NewsCard, or a special report you’ve prepared just for people you meet at events.
Final networking note…
When you’re interested in the other person you have the opportunity to learn enough about them to send them referrals.
When you’re interested in the other person, they will be interested in you. And they will send you referrals. They may even hire you.
Remember, networking is all about establishing relationships so they can grow and blossom into business.
All the best,
Marty “Workin’ the Room” Marsh
P. S. Since we aren’t likely to get to meet in-person at a networking event, let’s do the next best thing and connect online through social media so we can get to know each other better: