I have planned and attended hundreds of networking events. So I can tell you that there are two types of people who network.
1. Person A: Walks in and finds the first familiar face.
2. Person B: Scopes out the room, creates a plan, and then proactively tries to interact with new people with the intention of helping their business or someone else’s business.
Let me first say this: there is no “correct” way to network. Person “A” might have intended to only talk to colleagues or friends. In that case, mission complete. With that said, if you are person “A” and want to become person “B,” here is some advice to help you make the most of your time and effort.
1. Set Expectations Before You Go: Do you want to make new connections to help build your business? Are you looking for new clients? Are you looking for mentors in your field? Are you going to support a cause or see a new space? Or is it a combination of a few of these things? Time is money so it is important to make sure you understand why you are attending an event. Then think of creative ways to craft your elevator pitch around your expectations.
2. Set A Goal For Yourself: Depending on the size of the event and what your expectations are, you should always set a goal for yourself. This will help you stay focused. A few examples would be… “meet three new people” or “talk to one new person in every corner of the room”. If you find yourself at an event where you know a lot of people already, you might set a goal of “introduce two people to someone else you know”. I think this is a “lost art” in a society where a lot of people only think about themselves. There is power in helping others make connections. As they say… what goes around comes around.
3. Using Your Business Card Correctly: The key to having a business card is only giving it away with purpose. Don’t hand your business card to someone unless you really want to connect. If someone wants to connect with you, they will ask for your card. A tip, that has helped me in the past, is writing on my card where we met. As you can see below, I have a space for it on my card (even if you do not, you can still write it someplace on the card). It will help them remember you and then they are more likely to reach out and connect with you after the event. Also if your goal is three new contacts, keep three business cards in your hand when you walk in. Tell yourself… you can only leave when you have given them away.
Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint in everything you do.