In today’s connected, social society, we focus heavily on our digital networking. But often, it’s traditional, face to face networking where business gets done. Here are a few ideas to help make your introductions and meetings powerful:
- Check your arrogance at the door. It’s OK to be upbeat, positive and confident, but there’s no need to gloat. If you’re business is doing well, say so, but remember, you’re always looking for new and interesting clients (or projects).
- Keep business cards in your pocket at social events. Remember, the event is social, so be discreet when handing out cards. In fact, make it a rule to only hand out a business card at a social event when asked.
- Know what you want before asking for it. Be specific about the types of clients, companies or industries you work with; and also be specific about the types of problems you solve.
- Be prepared with several introductory statements. Sometimes, you only have a chance to say your name, occupation and who you help. But if asked for more information, have a situation or client story to tell which relates to how you solve problems.
- When saying what it is you do, focus on outcomes. For example, instead of a boring “I’m an attorney” try “I help fathers negotiate the divorce process”. It’s impactful, meaningful and memorable.
- Practice, practice and practice some more. If it sounds canned to you, imagine how the person hearing it for the first time thinks?
I hope these ideas help, and look forward to meeting some of you at future networking events!
Photo credit by Buckey.
Everyone’s a buzz with Internet networking on sites such as LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook. But let’s not forget the power of in-person networking. It’s much easier to form a bond with someone when you meet face to face. Online networking is somewhat anonymous, since we can hide behind our computer screens. See and be seen, take pictures, and record videos (so you have good fodder for your blog!).
First, find relevant events within your industry or geographic locations. Chambers of Commerce mixers, seminars and other local business networking events are found in nearly every community. Get over the initial inertia and just go introduce yourself to someone. Move past the small talk and ask open-ended questions with substance. People actually like being asked about their business, and what they do for a living, so ask questions such as:
- Why did you become a lawyer (doctor, salesperson, etc.)?
- How can I help you?
- How would I know if a prospect is right for referral to you?
What’s the biggest mistake you can make?
Don’t think of networking as a sales opportunity. Everyone at the event knows why you’re there, so think of it as a mission to learn something. Your sales and referrals will come later. And don’t be the one who holds up the wall and doesn’t talk to anyone. But the biggest mistake you can make is not following up with people you’ve met. Forget this, and you’ve wasted time, energy and money.
In person networking is a fun, change of pace from the frenzied world we live online (and real food tastes a whole lot better than virtual food!). Go in with a plan, have genuine conversations with the people you meet, and let networking flourish from there.
Photo credit by Murielle.