Did you know?

– Networking counts for 87% of business in the marketplace

– Two types of people in the world- those you know and those you don’t know YET!

To get the most out of any networking opportunity, you should be organised, interesting and engaging. Here’s an overview of how to prepare and get the best out of your investment of time.

Get organised

There are a few things you need to do before attending a networking event :

  • Make sure you have up to date business cards. If you are running low, or your details have changed, now is the time to order new ones.
  • Prepare a 5-10 second introduction about your organisation, your job and yourself. Practise this so it sounds natural and interesting.
  • Prepare a couple of ice-breakers (make sure you read the local newspaper or watch the news)
  • Dress casually, but professionally – you never get a second chance at a first impression.
  • Once you’ve arrived at the event, you should check out the complete attendee list and note people or businesses who you’d like to have a conversation with.

One in four strangers you meet at networking events will become prospects, clients or referees

Engage

During the event:

Seek out people you find interesting and introduce yourself.

People like to meet new people, but most feel awkward about starting a conversation.  So, be active – don’t wait for someone to approach you.  Try not to act like a shark…out to catch their victim!

  • Act like the host not the guest…it works!  Introduce other people, welcome others into your group.
  • Always ask open-ended questions – the ones that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.
  • If you exchange business cards, capture on the back what you discussed, and any other things that will make you remember this person.
  • Circulate – set yourself a goal for how many people you want to meet. If you are investing $50 and your time try and get a return.  Remember that quality is better than quantity. Don’t race around just to meet your ‘numbers’ and hand our business cards for the sake of it.
  • Sit at a table where you don’t know anyone. If you are there with people you know, don’t sit together, you can sit and chat together any other day of the week.
  • Talk with the speakers that you have an interest in. Don’t be shy. Most speakers like the acknowledgement of an interest in their topic.

Follow up

After the event:

  • Send a follow-up email to the people you connected with.
  • Reiterate what you found interesting about what they had to say and send on any relevant links or articles you may have discussed.
  • If appropriate, offer to catch up in a face-to-face meeting.
  • Think of your ‘new’ network as a series of connections which can link you to other people. When developing your business referencing a ‘common friend or associate’ is very powerful.

Treat networking events as a bank account, the more you can invest in time and effort to meet and connect with people, the more you can withdraw at a later date.