It seems like this time of year is full of networking opportunities. Three-day events are all around us! I’m trying to participate in as many as I can in the Atlanta area. Last week I attended Monica Shah’s Money 2.0 and this week I’m at Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Business LIVE 2014.
So why is attending events so important? There are several reasons. First, you’re likely to learn some great content to grow a successful business. We can ever know everything! And a lot of times, attending events is a reminder of things we knew but forgot. I’m sure none of you reading this article has ever done that, huh?
Second, it’s a great networking opportunity if you allow it to be. I suggest before you attend an event, decide what you want out of it. Do you want 10 sales conversations? Do you want 3 new clients? Are you looking for joint venture opportunities? Are you looking for speakers for your podcast, radio show, or television show?
Now that you know your purpose for going, these six tips will help you during and after the event:
- Smile! When looking for someone to approach to speak with, look for that person who is standing alone or a group of three with one person who is not particularly involved in the conversation. Approach those people, smile, and compliment them. “I love that blouse.” “That’s a beautiful necklace.” Be authentic and don’t try to force a compliment, though. You can always just introduce yourself.
- Show interest in the other person and his or her business. Ask questions, be engaging. You can ask things like: What do you do? How long have you been in business? What made you decide to go into ___________? What do you enjoy most about what you do? What’s the biggest challenge you face? How do you find you get the most of your business? Pay attention and make eye contact. Don’t look at your phone or look around the room for an escape. Listen to what they’re saying and try not to be thinking about the next question to ask. Let the conversation flow naturally.
- Collect their business cards and make notes on the cards. Maybe you met them Thursday morning at breakfast or sat at the same table with them Friday afternoon and discussed something specific. Take a permanent marker to make your notes – sometimes people have laminated business cards and ballpoint pens don’t work.
- Sit in different locations after breaks so you can meet new people and have new conversations. If you’re about to go to lunch, ask the person next to you if they have lunch plans.
- There is one key to attending events that is quite important and so often overlooked. Follow up!! No amount of networking will work unless you follow up. Unless you’re an exhibitor, you should not automatically put people into your ezine list. Instead, send them a personal email, mention what day and where you met them, and say something about the event. In this email, you can also talk about your newsletter or the freebie you offer. Ask if they’d like to be included.
- And then follow up again…call those people! Remind them of your connection and then ask if now is a good time to speak. If it’s not, schedule a call for a later time. However, if it is a good time to chat, dive right in and find out more about their business and what you can do for them!
Do you have some other networking tips? Share them below!