HOW TO CONNECT AT A NETWORKING EVENT
Let’s first understand why people go to networking events. Everyone that attends has a mindset or a goal of selling something to someone. I have yet to meet someone at such an event that is attending because they want to buy something.
As bad as the odds appear, it is better to attend a networking event than to stay home; at least there is an opportunity to create something positive. If everyone in attendance has the same mission, to sell something, then you have to be the different person at the event, the person who wants to help someone get better.
A typical networking event may have anywhere from 20 to over 100 participants. Everyone is there, business card in hand (speaking of business cards, go back and read the blog on business cards posted on July 12, 2017; “your first line marketing piece”) hoping that you are there to buy their service or product.
The goal at a networking event is not to try and get a card from everyone in attendance, nor should it be to hand out one of your business cards to everyone there. Although most such events become more of a party affair and very often the after-work events have both food and an open bar, successful networkers treat this as a business opportunity and as a serious use of time.
One approach that I have used when asked what my product or service is, to answer, “I have nothing to sell; I am only here to help you get better in your business career.” Another key word at networking events is “slow”. The more time you spend with an individual the better chance you have of establishing a future business relationship.
Don’t start off a conversation talking about yourself, your product or service. The goal is to learn more about the person you are addressing. Remember, the more you know about an individual the more apt that person will be agreeable to setting up another one-on-one with you.
A successful networking event is counted by the number of solid follow up appointments you have booked. Finishing an event with 2 or 3 solid appointments is better than going home with a handful of business cards from people you barely remember.
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