Networking. It’s a crucial element for expanding and growing any business, and even our own personal network, and yet many of us will shy away from it in a heart-beat. Maybe it’s the pressure of what you are looking to gain from the conversation, or simply the fear of making a fool of yourself, either way, networking can be a challenging process for even the best of us.
When planning our corporate events for clients, we find ourselves at the forefront of a strategy that focusses on making networking feel as effortless as possible for all guests so you can focus on making genuine and lasting connections. However, you can never be short of a couple of handy tips to help you mingle your way through a crowd like a pro.
To help you out, we have put together our top 5 networking tips to help you roll into those new-found relationships.
1. Ditch the elevator pitch – Be genuine and authentic
Networking isn’t about presenting a sales pitch to as many people as possible. It’s about getting to know new people, building a personal connection and making a lasting positive impression. One of the best ways to approach networking is as if you are trying to make a new friend. Just as if you were meeting this person at a friend’s birthday or standing in a queue at a coffee shop, you need to be yourself, take an honest interest in the other person and share (not sell), information about yourself.
Keep it simple and as you build a personal connection with someone, potential business opportunities will often present themselves.
2. Be Prepared – Have some talking points and do your research
Now, we’re not saying you need to bring along palm cards with some generic ice breaker conversations, but it’s always good to have mentally prepared some genuine, thoughtful questions to help keep the conversation going and help you learn about the other person. This includes asking questions about someone’s hobbies and life outside of work. For many, it’s refreshing to change up the conversation and not talk about work.
And a big one, don’t forget to actually listen to what the other person is saying. Sometimes our minds are so focused on our next move or next talking point that we forget to take in what the person is saying. Genuinely listening will help conversation flow naturally and you won’t be scrambling for the next talking point.
3. Quality over quantity – Don’t overwork the room
Despite there being a whole room of new people to meet, if you are only giving people 2 minutes of your time before moving on, it’s unlikely they will remember you amongst the mass introductions being made. Remember, it’s about creating meaningful connections and to do this, you will need to dedicate some time to getting to know people. Our advice, grow your network gradually, meeting only a handful of people per event.
If possible, it’s also always handy to do a bit of research on who’s in the room so you can plan accordingly. Who do you want to talk with and why? Knowing this will help you make the most of your event.
4. Remember who you’ve met – Take notes after meeting people
A great way to remember the people you’ve met at an event is to take notes about what was mentioned once you have met them. It’s good to try and do this as soon as possible while it’s fresh in your head. Not only will this help you in the future days or weeks when following up or potentially meeting them again, but it will show that you are a great listener and were genuinely interested in what they had to say.
Simply add the new connection as a contact in your mobile and add whatever notes you can think of. That way you will have these notes at all times of the day and will probably find this tactic more useful them storing them in your top drawer at work!
5. Take the pressure off yourself – Have an achievable goal
Networking events can often feel awkward and intimidating if you are not a seasoned networker. If you enter the event with the goal to hand out 20 business cards or gain 10 new business leads, you will more than likely be feeling uncomfortable the whole time or often leave disappointed. Instead, head into the event with an achievable goal – such as meet three new people. This will take the pressure off you and allow you to walk away with better connections and a more confident approach to networking events.
6. Bonus Tip – Hold your drink in your left hand. No one likes shaking a wet right hand
If you need help planning the perfect networking event for your customers or stakeholders, get in touch today. Our corporate experiences will have them talking for years!