Networking, you either love or hate it. When you are building your business it is an essential part of your overall prospecting plan. What is networking? Look at it as two words: net and working. Networking is about placing a net over the people you meet and then working those relationships. Because networking is “work” you should always go into networking with a goal and a purpose. First you should know who you want to target, who is your target market? Second find individuals that are in that market, but don’t try to sell them! You should not be selling anything at these events, remember that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Once you arrive at the event, scope the room and find those that are first surrounded by people, those are what Malcom Gladwell of The Tipping Point calls your Connectors. They are called that because they know a lot of people and can help you by making introductions. They are also great resource people and can direct you to whatever you may need. If you are already a Connector look for those that are standing in a corner by themselves, they are most likely to be a Maven. Maven’s are those individuals who are experts in their fields and are seen as advisors to their client. They are good people to find and build relationships with and soon they will soon be referring you to their clients.
Another approach could be to get to the networking event early and act as a greeter, you meet the most people and people tend to remember you better. If this is an event with a speaker or meal then find a table where you don’t know anyone. Most events now have table networking, however if it doesn’t, start it anyway by being a table facilitator. When you are introducing yourself share who you are and what you do and then name a few interesting and different things that you have done for clients. The main objective with your “30- second commercial” is to answer the question of what makes you different and why somebody would want to do business with you.
As you leave the event ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I meet at least two new people and get their card?
- Did I only give my card to individuals that wanted to learn more about me and my business?
- Did I find out what other organizations people belong to?
- Did I recognize the Connectors and the Mavens?
- Did I meet the speaker?
- Did I explain what I do in a way that differentiated myself?
If the answer to the majority of these questions is yes, than you “worked” your networking event!