Plus, your LinkedIn and Twitter contacts can feel far more valuable when you’ve heard first-hand what someone does in their role and how they can help others in business.
Here are five tips to ensure your networking efforts have the maximum impact on your business.
Attend events by yourself
People are open to approaches when you’re alone because everyone is generally in the same boat at a networking event. This can play to your advantage, points out the director of corporate support services at talent acquisition and advisory firm Brown & Chase, Nerissa Chaux.
“Attending events alone also pushes you out of your comfort zone and you don’t waste the opportunity by spending the entire event chatting to your friends,” Chaux says. Having attended hundreds of functions herself, she also advises arriving on time.
“It’s always great to be the first one at an event, as you have the best opportunity of meeting everyone who comes through the door.”
Be creative in choosing events
A like-minded networking event limits the breadth of conversation, points out Janine Garner, chief executive of women’s networking firm, Little Black Dress Group.
While you may have gone along to the event alone, the benefits of attending could be negated if you’re in a room full of industry peers, rather than picking events being attended by potential clients.
“Lawyers sit in a room with lawyers sharing their legal experience from the industry of law; CEOs play golf with CEOs, fashion industry PR experts mingle with other fashion industry PR experts,” Garner says.
“Imagine instead the colour of the conversation if you had lawyers, accountants, creatives, athletes, marketers and business owners discussing the various solutions to a problem. Imagine the different perspectives shared, the varying insights, the depth of conversation that would stretch thinking and push perspective wider.”
Be genuine and listen carefully
Approaching all networking opportunities as a learning experience is important, so sometimes being an active listener can have a greater impact than having a great story.
Take on networking as an opportunity to learn and hear about different perspectives rather than trying to gain quick wins for yourself, recommends Brent Duffy, director of Sydney leadership consulting firm Maximus International.
“People love to share their knowledge – asking for advice demonstrates humility, your ability to listen and be open minded,” Duffy says.
“It’s more important to be an attentive listener who comes across as authentic and trustworthy rather than someone who speaks candidly or excessively about themselves or their business. True listeners are rare, and people will remember you for this.”
Don’t try to meet everyone
There’s a misconception that you need to get around and meet as many people as possible at a networking event, but that’s not actually the best way to get the most out of it. Networking educator at Your Time Matters, Kerryn Powell, says “Not everyone you meet will be a good match for you, so rather than running around trying to meet everyone, focus on getting to know a few people well,” Powell says. “You’re better off taking some time to have a conversation with one person than trying to get around everyone in the room.”
Follow up within a week of the event
The follow-up is crucial to ensure that attending the event was worthwhile. This can take many forms, depending on the connection you’ve made.
As the owner of a small business, www.focusonwealth.com.au, Janet Culpitt has been networking for 16 years and now teaches others how to get the most out of networking. Don’t forget your business cards, she says, “You’d be amazed how often this happens!”
Culpitt recommends connecting on social media the same day of the networking event. Also check out any other social media groups your new connections are involved with and request to join these if they’re relevant to you.
Culpitt will send an ecard, a handwritten note, a text message or make a phone call to the new contact’s office to leave a thank-you message with their receptionist. “Emails are fine, but they’re so common these days that I like to mix it up,” she says.
3 networking apps to help you grow your business
Treatings aims to help people connect with others willing to meet to share ideas and explore opportunities to collaborate. Users who sign up list their professional interests and a selection of coffee shops where they’d be willing to meet then scroll through profiles of people with similar interests.
Rapportive is a particularly handy app because it shows you everything you need to know about your LinkedIn contacts right inside your Gmail inbox, including where they are located, and how long they’ve been in their current role.
Shapr brings you a daily selection of five new people to meet in real life, sourced from the connections of people you define as your most trusted professional relationships. Because no-one can have more than 50 people in their network, Shapr aims to offer more intimate, meaningful connections than a platform such as LinkedIn.
To read the blog post: https://stories.auspost.com.au/marketing-your-business/networking-like-a-pro-5-tips-for-your-next-meet-and-greet/