Not many people like #networking. It’s not something you sit at home and dream about doing, but it is impactful if you work at it. You must WORK at it! Yes, you read that correctly, it is work. So many people go to events and do not make real connections and they don’t think #networking works for them. Well, it’s most likely operator error.
Go to your event and challenge yourself. Compare yourself to the person you were at the last event. Do better than that. Keep trying. You are not going to be great the first time, or the second, or even the third. Keep practicing and keep the following tips in mind:
What serves you? Start by going to events that serve your business. If you are a general contractor you probably won’t be at a CPA networking event. You want to choose events that your potential clients or centers of influence will be attending.
Make an Effort. Yes, you must make an effort when you are at the event. Don’t be a wallflower. I like to set an intentional goal before I walk into every event. I say things to myself like, “I am going to walk away with three really strong new connections from this event.” Or, “I am going to introduce someone here to my network of people.” It can be anything, but make it fun!
Serve others. When you get to the event that you think will serve you and your business, begin serving others!! #Networking is about how you can help the person on the opposite side of you. You want to help as many people as possible and make an impact. Making an impact creates a good reputation. Creating a good reputation will inevitability impact your life.
Listen. Of course we are going to talk about this. Listening is a powerful skill that many people are still working to acquire. Listen to the person talking! If you are thinking about what you are going to say next, your take out dinner order, or your next move around the room you will inevitably miss something your new connection has to say.
Follow up. This is where most people fail. If someone gives you their card, then you need to FOLLOW UP! If you talk about something in particular, follow up and bring up that conversation in your email or phone call. If you didn’t discuss anything specific, then send a quick email saying you enjoyed meeting them. Ask them for an in person meeting or a phone call to learn more about what they do and how you can help. Keep it simple.
#Networking is a practice, not a perfect. One of my favorite yoga teachers, Stacy, says this and it is true of many things in life. Don’t make it complicated, but DO have fun. If you are passionate about what you do and you are having fun, it will show to the others in the room with you. Keep your head up and smile!