We have all been there before; we walk into our first networking event and have no idea where to begin. We think these things to ourselves; do you walk up and just start talking, or do you have to make eye contact first? What topics should you talk about? How personal is it okay to get in a business setting?
The key to effective networking is to be genuine and authentic, through these two actions you will be surprised on how your networking results turn out.
Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking and talking advertisements for one another.
Before the start of the event, ask yourself what your goals are in participating in the networking event. This will help you choose the right events to attend as well as decide the right people to talk to at these events. Some events have a bigger focus on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly getting business.
A good idea is to attend as many events as possible that spark your interest. While there, start to notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another?
After you have found events that spark your interest and you have established your goals for attending, now focus on your approach.
The nice part about networking events is everyone is there for a common purpose. To network! This means it is okay to walk up to a random stranger and introduce yourself.
Make sure to have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your service/product special or different from others doing the same thing. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily articulate to others.
After the introduction, start asking open-ended questions to get to know the other person. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
After gaining an understanding of who the other person is, and what their business goals are, try to become a resource for them. Try and offer them 51% of the value of the relationship!
When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.
If you are in need of help, be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. First make sure you have provided value to the other person before you ask them for something.
After you leave make sure to stay connected with the individual. Be sure to swap Trill Cards using the Trill App. Be sure to Email those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.