The importance of networking should be in the forefront of your mind in today’s market. People who networked effectively in the pre-recession economy are finding themselves spending less time unemployed than their non-networking counterparts in the current business climate. Entrepreneurs and former employees that attended networking events and focused on growing their Rolodex are reaping the rewards of referrals and opportunities.
Networking doesn’t have to be as nebulous as it sounds and the importance of creating a networking game-plan for yourself is paramount. Hopefully, the following tips will give you a head start at your next important networking event.
1. Get your personalized 11-sec elevator pitch ready. Anticipate popular or likely questions that will be asked at a networking event. You should a mini sales pitch already prepared about you and your company without sounding too pretentious.
2. Listen more than you speak. How many times at a networking event have you forgotten a person’s name on the initial introduction. You were probably worried about what you were going to say next than really listening to the introduction or what the person had to say. In addition, if you actually listen to the person you can quickly determine if he/she is a worthwhile contact or if you should continue networking the room.
3. Get your ice breakers ready.Easing the tension and the inevitable awkwardness will go a long way to the effectiveness of an introduction. Save the cheesy jokes, but have a sense a humor and a strong handle on current events of than weather. Keeping a comfort level in the conversation will make you memorable.
4. Referrals. The whole point in networking is to get the word out about your products and services. Networking successfully will build useful contacts that will turn into referrals for your business. Don’t be afraid to set definitive goals for yourself before an event. Promise yourself you will obtain at least five referrals from an event. Before you now it you’ll have new business and paid for the price of admission to the networking event.
5. Follow-up. also known as bridging. I have personally agonized over finding a workflow between what transpires at networking events, conferences and etc… and the follow up after the event. Good CRM software as well as good old fashion follow up phone calls and emails will turn an introduction into a vendor or customer.
6. Networking online and off. Don’t forget the power of Facebook and Linkedin for keeping in touch with your existing Rolodex as well as expanding new connections.