So what do you do if you’re a shy business professional, riddled with anxiety at the thought of a networking and mingle event? We have a few top networking tips which we guarantee will help you out!
Realization: Know you’re not alone! Networking (and other social events which put you in the spotlight) is listed in the top 5 phobias people have. When you really think about it, most people would get antsy at the thought of walking into a room full of strangers who they are expected to build an instant rapport with.
Application: When you realize the person you’re chatting with is probably also trying to calm down the butterflies in their stomach, you’ll find yourself beginning to relax. If you need an extra bit of help, try the old technique of taking a deep breath, hold for a moment and exhale.
Realization: If you’re not an extrovert (outspoken, social butterfly) you’re probably like most introverts — a fantastic listener – use this! At networking events, we are inundated with sales stories and elevator pitches, yet it is rare that we meet a great listener. In fact, when you do come across someone who really seems to be paying attention to what you’re saying and not simply prepping mentally to verbally dump on you their own pitch, it’s a relief.
Application: Use you’re great listening skills to your advantage! Not only will the person you’re connecting with be able to tell you’re really paying attention, you’ll also be able to make mental notes. These little treasures will come in handy when you decide to connect with them later, allowing you to create a custom reply instead of an obviously generic follow-up.
Realization: It’s not a popularity contest. Nor is it a race. A successful networking event is not measured in how many people you connect with or whether you’ve been able to “work the entire room”. Instead it is about the quality of the connections made – potential partnerships, possible cross-promotions, prospective suppliers, opportunities for sales and even future friendships.
Application: Don’t rush and put away any thoughts that your success is measured on how many business cards you’ve collected. Adopt an alternative measurement “did you make any connections that have budding possibilities?” Even 1 will make a difference to your business, brand and bottom line. Not everything is a numbers game.
Realization: No one likes the hard sell, and an obvious elevator pitch is… well.. honestly boring. People prefer authenticity & sincerity, they love real life stories and anytime we laugh with a friend, colleague or stranger we build a little bond.
Application: Rather than go into automatic mode, — robotically stating your memorized 30 second overview — try sharing a story about your business, or a recent achievement. Even better, use your listening skills (remember point number 2) and encourage your new contact to share their business first, then adjust your business intro to directly relate to their enterprise or better still see if you can present a way which helps with their expressed challenges. This is the essence of “new selling” — giving, sharing, providing solutions– so much better than the old school hard sell.
Realization: Networking doesn’t end when the event closes down, in fact the gathering is only the beginning. All of those business cards you’ve collected and new connections made will not nurture themselves, just like a garden they need to be cultivated.
Application: Within 48 hours of the event follow-up – send a friendly relaxed email to all of your new connections. If possible avoid a cold salesy letter. Make it a personalized note. By connecting within 48 hours of the event you are still fresh in their mind and the leads are what we call warm, if you wait longer they begin to turn cold until you are once again the equivalent of a cold call.
Apply these 5 tips and we can guarantee this will make a difference at your next networking event. Have any of your own special tips for networking? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to share them in our comments section.