As much as social media helps to expand our network, participating in traditional networking events is still a solid tactic to add to your brand building tactics. Networking also helps you build your community and especially if you are a subject-matter expert, networking can lead to consulting gigs and workshop opportunities. If you are only an online business, networking will help to create a foundation as some people
Certainly this style of event is, at times, intimidating. I started to actively attend networking events just this past year and I’m still learning the tricks of the trade. Here are 4 easy tips that has helped me build a better network and enjoy networking events.
1. Get there early
Simply by getting there ten minutes early will ease the anxiety of mingling with people you don’t know. By allowing the event to build around you, you can move around and introduce yourself to others and connect with the right people. This will also give you the chance to connect with the speakers and the organizers who also have lots of insider information on who is attending and what to expect during the event.
2. Network with purpose
Networking is not about filling your drawer with tons of business cards. Networking is not a numbers game in that the more you pass out your business cards, the better chances you will get something out of the event. Networking is about building meaningful contacts in a targeted way, to either meet or expand potential partners, employers and leads. An example of a clear purpose is, “I would like to meet 3 potential leads to help me get in company X.”
3. Follow-up to connect
Follow-up after the networking event. This is not a sales tactic or the time to promote your services but a genuine follow-up with the aim to a) stay connected, 2) reaffirmed ‘how nice it was to meet you’ and/or 3) thank the person’s time or lead he or she gave you. Follow-up on LinkedIn or email and if it calls for it, send a thank you note via the post. Yes, that’s the actual mail I’m referring too. There is nothing like receiving a hand-written thank you note.
4. Extend your help
When I started to network, I thought the process of networking was me for me and you for you. That thinking is totally wrong. Building a solid network is a direct result of sharing your knowledge, lending a helping hand and extending a personal introduction. It’s a give-and-take situation and if you are new to the networking world, start by giving.
5. Be strategic
What I’ve learned about networking in my quest to build a name for myself, the contacts needs to be on equal footing with you. Meaning, you both want something from each other. I’m not trying to sound harsh but the fact is you need to be strategic with networking. For example, if you continue to provide help to recent graduates in their quest to get a job and you are a marketing consultant, how does that help your business? However, if you are an online business that sells jewelry, giving a recent graduate a three-month internship could provide tons of value, they many be future buyers and great referral business.
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