Another event is coming up. You are getting ready to go and your entire focus is on how to network and make business connections to promote your brand and build relationships. So how do successful people network and avoid making others cringe?
Here are five problems that you might face in networking events and how to avoid them:
Don’t go unprepared
Arthur Ashe won three Grand Slam titles and became a legend in the tennis world. He once said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation”. Increase your self-confidence before you go to your event by preparing well for it.
Prepare these three important things before you go and you may guarantee a better outcome while networking and making business connections:
- Grab enough business cards to avoid running out of them when meeting people who might be valuable for your business. This may sound old-fashioned, but trust me when I tell you, swapping business cards is still the most elegant and professional way to exchange contact information.
- Prepare a remarkable pitch not more than two to three statements. You have 8 seconds to grab the attention of your encounter. So, your first statement matters the most and can guarantee further engagement. Practice your elevator pitch until you master it and monitor how people react to it and refine it as you go
- Have a list of questions ready to help you get your encounter engaged. Including icebreaker questions, some attendees might be more timid than you.
Don’t be timid
More than 2000 years ago, Sallust, a roman historian and politician said, “Necessity makes even the timid brave.” When it comes to events, it is necessary to network and make business connections. Don’t only talk to people you already know and shy away from introducing yourself to new people.
People at events are there to connect with each other and share their stories. Remember, everyone has a story to tell; tell yours and listen to theirs.
Keep in mind that networking is an investment that eventually pays off.
Don’t be informal
When you exchange contact information, don’t say your phone number, email, social media account, or write them down on a paper. Give them a business card and ask for one in return; it is still the most effective direct marketing tool and is often the first impression of your brand.
However, don’t be a card spammer. Choose your timing and audience carefully when you give away your business card. It’s important to exchange business cards with those you find a common ground with and might be valuable to you or your business.
Don’t push and bombard with info
Your first purpose at an event is for you to establish business connections and build relationships, not to make a sale. The sale will follow, maybe at some other time at the event, a few days or a couple of weeks later.
It is important to avoid compulsive self-promotion; make sure not to be overly enthusiastic to talk about yourself and your company. Most people don’t want to be bombarded with information when they first meet you.
Keep in mind these three simple things while talking to others:
- Ask questions. Use the ones you prepared to engage with others.
- Listen actively and patiently to what others have to say. People can tell and appreciate when you do it.
- Don’t ever interrupt anyone while talking. Think about how you feel when you have been interrupted.
Don’t forget to organize your contacts info and follow-up
If you don’t follow this tip, you may as well not go to the event at all. Unless you follow-up with the people you have met and organize properly their contact information, your event would be a complete waste of time.
At the end of every day, make sure to capture and personalize your contacts data. Add notes, reminders to follow-up with them, and send a quick thank you note to their email address. Make sure to show that your time spent with them was valuable.
Most importantly, if you said you would do something for them, commit to do it. It is essential to build a foundation of trust.
Keep in mind these habits and you might make your event very successful: Prepare well, engage with people, share your business card, be concise, listen attentively to others, don’t interrupt, organize your business connections information, and make sure you follow-up.
Here are tips, tricks, and facts from hundreds of sales, marketers, and thought leaders who are getting great returns from their networking events.
Originally published September 27, 2018, updated January 13 2020