Here are a few tips to guide you through the face to face networking maze. Gaining Networking Skills is like anything an education that needs practicing but the opportunity to grow your network is huge. These events are not a one shot wonder, you need to be consistent and attend regularly.
You go to a Networking Meeting to Give, Not Get
All too often, new entrepreneurs and people new to networking go into a Business Networking meeting thinking it’s their one shot to get someone at the meeting to become their prospect. If you set the stakes to high, you take away all the fun out of the event and put a huge amount of pressure on yourself.
Stop and rethink your mindset. You’re not there to get, you’re there to contribute to the meeting and give value. You ned to help others or just learn what other professionals are doing.
This little change in thinking will boost your sense of purpose and self-worth and erase that overwhelming pressure. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself having a good time, developing strong relationships and attracting loads of referrals.
Don’t Appear Desperate
For people at a networking event, the appearance of desperation or neediness is a major turn-off. When your main purpose is getting something from the event, you send the message that you’re deprived of something and you’re looking to the person you’re meeting to save you. So no matter how badly you need a new client, you’ve got to set that aside when interacting with others.
There’s a lot of jargon out there, and these buzzwords block any kind of meaningful conversation or relationship. Yes, you should prepare and practice answers to expected questions like “So what do you do?” But these answers should be simple, natural and in plain English. Your goal is for anyone (not just those in your industry circle) to understand and connect with what you’re saying.
Remember you have to share so you wnat to make sure you learn about other busienss and they will be happy to learn about your business.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
This is a great skill for anyone who can’t stand all the repetitive small talk associated with meeting people the first time. The goal here is to always ask people questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.
Pick questions that demand a real answer, like, “How have your marketing challenges changed in the past 5 years?” “What are your customers asking for the most?” and “Why do you think that is?” As a general rule of thumb, “why” questions generate the most interesting answers and conversations.
Limit Your Drinking
You might think that a few drinks will help you relax and mingle. There’s nothing wrong with a drink or two, but know your limit. When talking with potential clients or referrals, you want to be as sharp, clear and on top of your game as possible, and alcohol doesn’t help in these areas, people don’t want to talk to someone slurrying their words. Remember, you want to portray yourself as someone others want to work with, not necessarily drink with.
Connect With the Speaker and the Organizer
When you go to a networking event with a speaker. Get to know the speaker, there is nothing more powerful than an endorsement from the speaker at any networking event. Get to know the organizer, the organizer knows most people at the event and will be able the best people to network with and the best to get referrals from.