Networking is an essential part of every Marketing Strategy. Learn how to do it well and make it a productive use of your time.
1. Plan ahead. Put not only the event on your calendar, but block off time the following day to follow up and connect with the people you met.
2. Prepare. Dress appropriately, wear your name tag (on the right side!), have your business cards ready, plan your introduction.
3. Brush up on your small talk. Know the main news topics and have a few anecdotes, interesting books or articles, something on your reading list in your head.
4. Put on your smile, practice a good handshake, and remember to be focused on one person at a time. People want to talk to people who are pleasant and have a welcoming attitude.
5. Position yourself. Notice the flow of traffic and position yourself in a place that allows you to see who is coming and going and to be seen by others. You are not having a romantic dinner, so do not allow yourself to disappear into the corners of the room.
6. Know your goal. It is never my goal to gather as many business cards as possible. Instead, I make a point of meeting 2-3 new people and having a meaningful conversation with them and then reconnecting with 2-3 people that I already know.
7. Be customer focused. Ask questions about them. Get a conversation going, not a one-way monologue. Try to identify their needs. Figure out how you can help them.
8. Don't monopolize their time. 10 minutes is plenty of time to have a discussion and move on politely.
9. Introduce people. Everyone is at a networking event for the same reason, so introducing people is another way of being helpful. Think of yourself as a host in this respect.
10. Follow up with your new contacts. Connect on social media, set up a lunch, follow through immediately on any promises that you made. Meeting someone new is the initial goal. It is the follow up that begins the process of building a meaningful relationship.
Anything you would add to this list?