Business networking is all about creating valuable relationships and friendships with other business people in your industry and beyond. Making connections doesn’t have to be hard, provided you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone to communicate and connect with other people.
When done right, business networking can benefit your business by helping you acquire new clients and partners. Here are some tips and tricks to nailing your next big business networking event.
It’s easy to get carried away into talking about non-business related topics with friends and colleagues that are also attending the event. Rather than talking about how your wife and kids are doing, the goal is to find new people and introduce yourself to them. If you stick to interacting with just your group of close friends, you’re not taking advantage of potential connections that could benefit you and your business.
Networking is an excellent means of promotion, but you shouldn’t shove your products down your acquaintance’s throat. Don’t get too salesly and just focus on establishing a connection with the people that you meet.
There’s nothing worse than having a great conversation with someone only to realise that you’ve forgotten all about your business cards. Sure, you could just give them your phone number, but that won’t put you in a very positive light. Keep your business cards handy and in good condition.
People receive hundreds of cards in the course of a networking event. You can make sure your cards stand out by writing a note or additional contact information on it. The goal here is to make the recipient feel that they’re receiving something unique.
The exchange of business cards in some Asian cultures is almost ceremonial in nature. If you know you’ll be meeting with people from Asia, make sure to treat their offerings with respect. Don’t fold, crease or put the card immediately in your pocket without taking a good look at it first.
A good trick to remember someone’s name is to make an effort to mention it at least a few times during your conversation. This is something that people don’t often do and can really make you stand out as friendly and sincere.
We all want to impress when we first meet people by mentioning our incredible achievements and skills. Instead of trying too hard to build an image for yourself, spend some time asking other people questions as well. You might learn a new thing or two, and you’ll definitely stand out as a great listener.
Chances are you’ll meet your fair share of people during the event. You need to make sure you remember as much as possible about the more interesting ones by taking notes. It could be anything business or non-business related that caught your attention. You can use that information to engage in friendly conversation the next time that you meet them.
Body language has been studied for several decades now. You can strengthen relationships and build rapport just by taking advantage of a couple of useful body language tricks:
You’re not going to meet a lot of people if you curl up in a dark corner of the room. Stay close to the high-traffic areas, such as the main door, the bar, or the buffet. Make it so that it’s easy for people to come to you.
There are good and bad times to engage someone in conversation. If someone is walking towards the restroom or if they have a phone in their hand, it means that they are probably not looking to have a chat. Wait until they have come back from the restroom or have put their phone away before talking to them.
If someone’s answered a question, ask them another question about what they just said. This is a great way to show that you care about what they have to say and are really paying attention. If you’re not confident around new people or are unsure of how to strike up conversations at a networking event, check out our 7 easy conversation starters when networking. [Link to > 7 easy conversation starters when networking BLOG]
Most networking events come with great buffets, and if you’re a foodie, you might get carried away with all the exquisite delicacies on offer. To avoid embarrassment, always keep one hand free so that you can shake hands with people (i.e. eating and drinking at the same time is probably not a good idea).
Most people attend networking events with friends and colleagues. Demonstrate your networking skills by introducing each new person that you meet to someone you already know. Don’t approach two people who are already talking. You wouldn’t want to interrupt an important discussion.
You can try to join groups of three or more, but remember to make eye contact and avoid speaking before everyone else has said something. Ideally, you want to initiate a conversation with someone who is standing by themselves.
Busy business people meet hundreds (even thousands) of people every month. Don’t wait too long to follow up with someone after talking to them at a networking event. Give them a call or drop them a message within the next few days.
Many people get caught up in a quest of acquiring business cards and forget all about what networking events really are for. Take this opportunity to develop new friendships and relationships, and don’t worry too much about the number of business cards that you have in your pocket. It’s better to meet just one person and create a strong connection with them than talk to a hundred people that you’ll never see again.
Don’t think of business networking events as an opportunity to sell yourself and your product. Think of it as a chance to build strong connections that will hopefully benefit your business in the long run.
Take a moment to think and remember to keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t talk too much and listen to what other people have to say.