Many people have a hard time going to networking events. The biggest reasons are that they never have thought about how to deal with them. To help them we list here 15 tips that might directly impact the experience on receptions, cocktail drinks, mixers, conferences, seminars and other networking events.
1. Remember to bring your business cards. Help people to help you. If they want to connect you to somebody, give them the “tools” to do so.
2. Prepare your Sticky Story© or Elevator Story. This is the answer to the question: “And what do you do?” Be prepared to give an answer that sticks with people so they can tell about you to their network.
3. Give and Receive. Look for what you can do for other people first. Think what you can offer without expecting in return (for example tips like the ones you are reading now). Be a graceful receiver as well.
4. When talking with someone: give your undivided attention. If you are easily distracted by people walking in and out a room, position yourself with your back towards the door.
5. Listen more than talking yourself.
6. Look for things you have in common. This makes the rest of the conversation (and every future conversation with this person) much easier.
Tip: there are always 3 things you have in common and that can be used as conversation starters: theme/topic/speaker, location and organisation.
7. Look for ways to help people.
8. Mind your body language: smile, make eye contact, be relaxed,...
9.Don’t stay with the same person or group of people the whole time. Networking events are organised to meet other people as well. And think about this: maybe you don’t want to meet other people, but the other person does. Don’t monopolize their time.
10. Introduce people to each other.
11. Remember details about people you have met. Help yourself by writing them down on the back of their business card or on a piece of paper. Then transfer them to an electronic contact system like your e-mail contact folder, a spreadsheet or database.
12. Exchange business cards when you can help each other, not to gather and distribute as many cards as possible.
13. Networking is NOT selling. The goal of networking is starting and maintaining relationships. Making a sell is one of many possible outcomes.
14. Follow up. And do it in a timely and respectful way.
15. Share these tips with the people you meet. Especially if you find it hard to open a conversation or are nervous about talking with strangers, say something like “I have just read some tips about networking. What is your opinion about ...” (fill in the dots with the tip you want to talk about)
Good luck !
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Jan Vermeiren is the founder of Networking Coach, author of the network book “Let’s Connect!” and well known networking speaker. Jan and his team specialize in online and offline networking and referral presentations and training courses. The team works for international companies like Alcatel, Deloitte, DuPont, IBM, ING and Sun as well as for small companies.
Go to www.networking-coach.com to get your FREE networking e-course
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