Regardless of what you do for a living, you will likely be attending networking events that can feel like social events because you will end up talking to colleagues and some old friends. I would like to recommend that you use your time more wisely and make some business connections with the people you DON’T know at a networking event.
According to the book Act Now!, Peter Jazwinski says you should be attending at least one networking event per month.
"Networking in this business is like playing the lottery. Every person you meet is like buying another ticket. If you want to win the lottery, buy lots of tickets.” - Chris Fenton, former William Morris talent agent as quoted in Act Now!
Yikes, right? But I do it... I do it because it's important to my goals. Below are some of the things I try to put into practice each time I am out in the networking world.
Feel free to use them!
1. CONSIDER WHY you are attending a particular event. You want to be clear about this so you can get what you need out of it. What is your overall business goal and is this event assisting with moving you further toward it?
2. CHAT UP at least 3 new people. 3…new… people. That’s what I’m saying. If you only chat with the people you know, just call it a party, not a networking event.
3. COLLECT other people’s business cards. Only offer yours if they ask you for it.
4. MEET THE KEY NOTE SPEAKER at this event, but before you do, first learn all you can about that person so you are able to have a conversation with them that is not about you. See their film, read their book… that sort of thing.
5. ASK QUESTIONS that are specific but open ended. ie: do you work with a team? why did you move to________? where are you from originally? how did you decide to do blah blah?
6. HAVE A FOLLOW UP PLAN. I’d recommend a thorough plan that is sustainable after the event. If you drop a ‘nice-to-meet-you’ note the following day, mark your calendar when you'll make contact again to set up an appointment or something.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA can be creepy but if it’s appropriate, follow, friend or whatever else is out there you could be doing. (I suck at this one...)
8. FIND the next event. Challenge yourself to see if you can find one where you don’t know anyone!
9. EVERYONE IS THERE for the same reason. Start talking with someone about anything. I’ve done this one. It’s hilarious how you can say almost anything at one of these and the other person is just glad you were the first to say it.
10. ENJOY YOURSELF. Even if they are business events - you can still have fun - be yourself, you don’t have to be all sales-y. Stick to your agenda, make many contacts and hit the ground running the next day with your Follow Up Plan (see #6).
This (and future posts) is written the way I speak. The punctuation and spelling will be whatever I want. Just thought I should mention that - so I don't receive cut-and-pasted versions of this post with "helpful" corrections. It's good info...just get past the grammar and punc.