Have you ever been to a networking event that felt like a waste of time? Or have you felt like you were on display and being judged? Networking can sometimes feel like the entrepreneur’s equivalent of speed-dating. Here are some tips on do’s and don’ts so you don’t end up as the wallflower:
1) Ask and be truly interested in what others do.
Networking is about connection, not about getting clients in the moment. If people feel you’re just trying to sell to them, they’ll resist talking to you, no matter how great your service. Reframes that can help you network are ‘I’m here to serve – I wonder what this person needs?’ or ‘I’m here to meet great people. I wonder how many new exciting connections I can create.’
2) Work to connect others when you find a match.
Even if neither person you spoke to is a prospective client of yours, if you find two people who ought to meet, introduce them. Throughout my business coaching career, I’ve noticed that people remember those who help them get what they want, and it tends to come back around.
3) Eat before you go, so you can focus on connecting, not on eating.
If one drink tends to make you tipsy, stick to non-alcoholic drinks, so you’re at your sharpest. Networking can be fun and social, but it’s still a work activity, so be your professional best.
4) Some people won’t be interested in what you have to offer, and that’s OK.
That doesn’t mean anything about you – it’s not a rejection, it just may be that they aren’t in your target market. Remind yourself of the great value that you provide, move on and connect with someone else.
5) Always, always follow up.
Networking is where you meet prospective clients, NOT how you book business. You must call or email, or both, to connect with someone after an event. In my years of business coaching, I’ve noticed that more business is lost by lack of following up than any other business mistake.