It’s that time of the year when more parties and After 5 events can make you sweat or make you smile with glee at the opportunity to meet old and new business friends. When business networking it is good to have a plan of action for the evening when attending the many business functions over the next weeks and into the New Year!
Here is a short summary of tips that I put together. Happy networking, smile, relax, and have a good time connecting:
When you arrive at your event avoid gravitating to the people you know. Say hi to those in charge and then find someone new to introduce yourself to. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came. Also, survey the room and check out the high-traffic areas such as the main entrance, the bar, or near the food.
Stop selling and start listening! When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t sell them anything. Rather, begin to establish a relationship. My experience has been I ask lots of questions to strangers and then have them walk away with out ever finding out anything about me. It makes me chuckle since I believe that in itself is a key indicator of your true potential to connect with someone.
Keep your business cards handy so they are easy to access and in good condition. Wear your name tag on the right side so when you shake hands your name tag is visible to view. Yes, wear a name tag not everyone knows who you are or who you represent. When you receive a card take time to write a note to yourself, especially where you met the person. If you do it while chatting with the person it will convey a sense of personal connection.
During the course of your conversation, use the other person’s name two or three times. People love to hear their own name and it will help you remember their name when the discussion is over. If you have a good memory congrats. If you don’t start by telling yourself I am great with names, I am great with names and practice, practice, practice remembering people’s names!!
After your new connection has shared something with you, ask them another question about what they just said. This alerts the person that you really are paying attention to them.
I love this one – initiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. As a high “I” on the DISC scale this is something I do on a regular basis. The person will be happy to have someone to talk to them and as a result will many times open up with valuable information. I have found that others tend to gravitate over and soon there is a crowd. As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person.
Follow up is the key to a successful networking night. Statistics say, “When you meet someone for the first time, you have just 48 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.” Having your notes on the their business card helps to personal the follow up.
A Holiday networking event and for that matter any networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire. Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that may have potential to blossom for both parties who made a connection.