5 Tips For Your Next Networking Event
If your business has grown primarily through word of mouth, you may be feeling like you’re sitting pretty.
Clients will keep spreading the good word, and the cash will be flowing non-stop.
Except when it’s not.
The problem with growing exclusively through word of mouth is that if you’re not putting in any effort yourself, eventually that growth will stagnate, or at least ebb and flow.
Networking events are an amazing way to connect with new people, and can help leave a lasting impression with those who might already know about your business.
They’re relatively affordable (if not free), usually local (or lately virtual), and when they’re run well can make for a great time.
Remember, clients need to know, like, and trust you in order to send you business, and networking events are a great way to make that happen.
If you hate networking events, or shudder at the thought, you may already be dreading the rest of this blog.
Don’t. Let’s make it simple. Here are a few simple ways to make sure that you’re a superstar at your next networking event:
- Say yes and show up. If a networking opportunity comes up and you have room in your schedule, go! Take that chance. There are a few folks who go to too many networking events (to the point that they’re neglecting their business) but there are definitely those who attend far too few. The reality of a networking event is that you never know who’s going to be there, or who the attendees are connected to. Even if you don’t directly get business out of that one or two hours, you may end up leaving an impression that can be lucrative down the line.
- Find a way to stand out authentically. There are networking events and groups that are incredibly formulaic, and recommend attendees stick to a script. Others are more free form in how they operate. No matter what you’re attending though, find a way to leave an impression, and the best way to do that is by being yourself. The classic ‘elevator pitch’ can come in handy, but don’t lose sleep if you can’t remember your exact phrasing. Be yourself, be genuine, and be excited about your business. That energy and authenticity is what the crowd will remember far better than any canned over-rehearsed pitch.
- Bring business cards. Business cards may seem passé, but they can be a great giveaway for a networking event. Not only can you drop it in a bowl sometimes to win a draw, but people do take business cards away from an event and add the names to LinkedIn or to their CRM. Cards are still a great way to get on someone’s radar, especially if they’re meeting a ton of people that day.
- Meet new people, not just the ones you already know. If you’re shy, and you know one person in a crowded room, you may be tempted to stick to that person like glue. It’s fine to say hi, but networking events are really about pushing those social boundaries. Set yourself a goal to talk to three new people at an event, or even one new person if you’re super timid. Slowly but surely you’ll start to build an impression within your community.
- Keep in touch! This is probably the most important tip. Meeting someone at a networking event should be the start of the relationship, not the end. Reach out through LinkedIn after, and send a message reminding the person where you met them. Invite them to check out the rest of your online presence, either through your LinkedIn page or your website or social media. If you really clicked, set up a 1 to 1 conversation when you’re both available to chat more, and learn about how you may be able to work together or send each other business. Use these events as a way to plant new relationships – that’s exactly what they’re there for.
Want to learn more tips for networking, or curious how we can help build each other’s businesses? Reach out and let’s set up a time to connect one on one.