So you’re going to a networking event and you’re not sure what to do. That’s okay. Below are 9 steps to help you improve your networking skills.
Find out who’s going to be there and look them up. Learn everything you can about them, and prepare an angle – what introductions they might benefit from, any mutual connections on LinkedIn, and so on.
Explain what you do in 30 seconds. Go! You should be able to clearly explain what your organization does and what you do within that organization within 30 seconds to 1 minute. Confidence is key here and a good opening statement will set the foundations for a solid conversation.
Asking questions shows that you are invested in the relationship you are trying to build. It shows that you care and that you’re not just trying to make a sale.
Help people out. Don’t just try to get them to help you. If you meet someone who needs a social media marketer and you happen to know one (and aren’t one yourself), put them in contact instead of trying to force your services on them.
Build rapport by being aware of the way that you interact with others. If something isn’t working, find out what it is and change it (which is generally easier said than done). Be aware of your body language. If you’re in an awful mood, you can hide it by doing things that you do when you’re in a better mood, like smiling and using wide, open gestures. You should also be aware of other people’s body language. If they seem to be feeling bad, maybe you should adjust your approach.
Get their contact information and, if you can, find out what form of contact they prefer. If you just give them your contact information, they probably won’t contact you and you won’t be able to follow up later.
You aren’t going to remember what you found out when you asked everyone questions. Write everything you can remember on their business card or somewhere else. That way you can add a personal touch when you follow up.
Find out more about them and their organization. Would they even want to buy anything from you? If not, follow up with them anyway. Maybe you can get access to their network.
Call them, email them, message them on Facebook, or whatever. If you know what form of contact they prefer, use that. Maybe they really like Reddit and can’t stand talking on the phone. Include any specific information that you wrote down after talking to them. For example, if you talked about the ski trip they’re going on next week, mention it and wish them well. If you call them, try to incorporate those personal details into the conversation. It will help you seem like you really care about them as an individual. Which you do.
Photo courtesy of The Tax Haven.