Strategies for Successful Networking Events: Part 2
In our last post, we talked about the first steps to great networking. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty — how to talk to people at an event and how to follow up!
1. Don’t strive to be interesting. Strive to be interested. Dale Carnegie puts it this way: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Ask thoughtful questions. Listen to people’s answers. Remember their names. During your time together, give them your undivided attention. Learn to focus not on how you’re feeling at a given event, but on how you’re making others feel.
For those of us who are outgoing, it’s a great reminder to avoid dominating the conversation — we can use our conversational skills to shine a spotlight on others, instead of focusing only on ourselves. For those of us who are a bit nervous at social events with new people, focusing on how others feel is a great way to get out of our heads and have some great conversations!
2. Learn to make smooth, considerate transitions between conversations. This can be tricky. You want to have as many quality conversations as possible, and you also don’t want to have one conversation monopolize the entire evening. Quality and quantity are both important in networking. A few tips:
— Aim for 4 or 5 minutes for most conversations.
— NEVER abruptly ditch a conversation partner for someone “more interesting.”
— Sometimes it helps to go with a buddy. You can introduce each other and enter and leave groups together.
— Sometimes the best way to gently end a conversation is just to sincerely thank the other person, let them know you enjoyed meeting them, and let them know you’ll watch for opportunities to share their work as you continue meeting folks throughout the evening.
3. Meet someone you want to talk more with? Ask permission to follow up. If you meet someone really interesting, someone you’d really like to keep talking with, ask if you can call them or if they’d be interested in coffee. You then have permission to connect with them later and you’ll be able to have a more in-depth discussion at a later date.
4. Be a connector. Don’t simply look out for your own business interests. Watch for opportunities to connect others! If you’re talking with someone and realize there is someone else at the event who could help, or who needs help from, this person —make an introduction! Both parties will really appreciate your help, and when possible they’ll be anxious to return the favor.
5. Take notes. After your event, take a few minutes to jot down notes about people you met, ideas you had, opportunities you saw. Details tend to fade quickly, so take notes while the information is fresh!
6. Follow up within 2-3 days. Networker Joshua Steimle advises clients to follow up within 72 hours if you’ve promised to send information or connect with someone. “Waiting any longer may unintentionally convey disinterest.” Make sure you don’t waste great opportunities by failing to follow through!
BONUS TIP: Practice makes perfect. Or at least less awkward. Some of us are total naturals when it comes to networking. For most of us, though, effective networking takes practice. The key is to keep at it! Ask questions. Listen. Be willing to stretch yourself. Help others feel awesome when they’re around you. Your business will grow as a result, and so will you!