I’m starting to get back into networking as it’s a great opportunity to meet people in the local area and to tell them more about the books I’ve written and what Tough Girl Challenges is all about. I’ve written down a few pointers which I’ll share with you. Most are common sense, but it’s good to have a refresher every once in a while.
Google free networking events in your area.
Sign up to mailing lists to keep up dated.
Ask the people you meet what other events they go to and if they can recommend any.
Know where you’re going! It’s easy these days to load all of the information into your phone and to be able to use Google Maps to find the location. But what would you do if your phone died?
Work out the best way to travel there in advance.
Book the event into your diary/calendar straight away with all the important details.
Arrive on time or slightly earlier, I think it’s easier when you’re there first; it allows you to get the best seats, get a feel for the room and get your bearings.
Take business cards with you and take more than you think you’ll need.
If you have flyers or leaflets take them with you as well, you’ll never know when they may come in handy. You may be able to put them out on the tables in the room.
Have a notebook and pen to make any notes.
Meeting people for the first time
Can be a little scary if you haven’t done it before, but it’s a skill and like any skill you can get better at it with practice.
Practice does make perfect, go to as many networking events as possible.
Keep your right hand free so you can shake hands easily. Keep your handbag, case, coat etc in your left hand.
Wear your name badge on your right hand side, so people can easily read it when they shake hands.
Take your own name badge with you to wear in case they don’t have badges at the event.
Smile when you meet people for the first time and make eye contact.
Have a good hand shake, don’t have one of these limp handshakes there’s nothing worse!
Don’t be afraid to go over and introduce yourself to people. Everyone’s in the same boat. They’ll probably be grateful that you’ve been the first one to make the move.
At the event
Don’t be afraid of moving round and meeting new people. Spend about ten minutes with each person.
When you’re talking to someone give them your full attention, ask open ended questions and listen to what they say. Never be looking over their shoulder for the next person to speak to.
If someone else joins your group, make sure you introduce them to everyone and update them with what you’re talking about.
After you’ve spoken to someone thank them for their time and then move on.
End the conversation by saying, thank you so much it was really lovely to meet you. If you’ll just excuse me there’s someone else I just want to touch base with. Something along those lines.
Be relaxed, you don’t need to talk about work all the time. But you should have a short dialogue of what you and your business is about. Make it short, sharp and punchy. The more you say it, the more it will roll off the tongue.
Follow up from the event.
As soon as you leave the venue try to make notes on the people you met, they don’t have to be detailed, but just enough to help you remember what you talked about. I always end up writing notes on the back of business cards. Normally in short hand, e.g. 2 kids, likes running, member of BNI etc.
Always send a follow up e-mail to the people you meet. Even though they may not be interested in buying your book or checking out your website. At least they know about you and they may have a friend or a family member who would find your work of interest. So you never know what could come from it.
There’s a great App called Card Cam. You take a photo of the business card and the app will them scan it and automatically capture all of the information from the business card and will add it into your phone which will save you time by not having to manually input it.
Follow the people you meet on twitter, hopefully they’ll follow you back as well, and if they do re-tweet any of your tweets the information could end up going out to thousands of people.
If you have a real connection with someone, invite them out for a coffee. This is a cheap and easy way of getting to know the person and seeing if there are any mutual benefits that could be had from working together. If there aren’t you haven’t lost anything apart from your time and the cost of a cup of coffee, but you could end up making a new friend!
Don’t worry if people don’t come back to you. At least you know you’ve made the effort and are putting yourself out there.