By Jason Houck
Networking events have been a big part of the business and social scene for as long as anyone can remember. When attending an event, it is imperative to encompass the goal of helping others first which is old cliché that is often left at the door. When headed to your next event, keep in mind you want to have earned the right, honor, privilege, and respect to be able to meet with them again.
The key component to keep in mind when attending a social or business event is to not sell yourself. Instead, make it the opportunity to build a relationship.
1. Leave your troubles or problems at the door. Enter with a smile, be energetic, positive and outgoing.
2. When entering the networking event, you should thank the host then move on to finding someone new to introduce yourself to. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you’re attending.
3. When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t try to sell them anything. Rather, begin to establish a relationship by giving them your entire focus and listening.
4. Think ahead and always have a plan when attending. It keeps you on task, makes it easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome.
5. When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand writing your cell or personal email number on it. This will cause the recipient to feel that they are receiving something special.
6. When a person is talking to you, be sure to look directly at them. Giving a person your full attention with your eyes will encourage them to share more.
7. Start a conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information. Avoid approaching two people who are talking.
8. During the course of a conversation, use the other person’s first name two or three times. People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is over.
9. As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person. Be the one that gives, connects and is resourceful.
10. Follow up with a handwritten “Thank You” card to those you had direct contact with and include something from the discussion. This shows how well you were listening and that you are interested in building a lasting relationship.
A networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire or how popular you can become. Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that have potential in growing your business.