Networking is very critical for small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups. Knowing and meeting people is a speedier way of building connections as you learn what they require and do. These are also the same individuals who might turn up to be your customers. If you have been using online networking to handle different meetings and issues, you could be wasting a lot of time, considering face to face meetings gives you the chance to use the least time to handle nearly every pressing problem. Essentially, there’s no any kind of tech that can replace one-on-one relationship building.
Face-to-face interactions are important bearing in mind 85 percent of networkers have created stronger and fruitful business relationships through face-to-face conferences and meetings. 95 percent of networkers also believe face-to-face networking meetings are the perfect ingredient for building the longest standing and rewarding business relationships.
Apparently, facial expressions and body language are important extra-linguistic cues people pay attention to and 77 percent of people prefer meeting in person because of them. In fact, social media platforms might be efficient ways of establishing business relationships initially but using them too much in your networking has been found to be costly. Before you get into any face-to-face networking event there’re a number of things you need to know to prepare accordingly.
Prior to getting down with a client or customer for coffee or any other meeting you need to be really prepared. For instance, if you’re going to meet the most respected doctors, authors or scientists you might want to read some of their published literature. If the person is a marketer, take a close look at the projects they’ve completed in the recent past, speaking engagements, and news releases, publications among other things about or by the individuals.
Research the individual you’re about to meet on Google, LinkedIn and other areas to know as many things about them as possible. All these give you the perfect talking points in your conversations and help you to deal with awkward moments and establishing a rapport fast. In case it’s a company, you might want to take the same approach and learn as much as you can about it.
The benefits that come with this is that you’ll be very comfortable in your interaction and when it comes to preparing the questions and queries to be put across you’ll have a lot of ammunition.
Build up to the event
This is all about reaching the person in advance via phone, email or other medium. Ask yourself whether the event is something you’re comfortable with or you have a feeling it’s not going to be easy. Rather than wait for the networking event to materialize and suffer nervousness and fear that could affect your ability to network, reach out to the individual or company. You can even use email to reach a number of participants you intend to meet during the event. Introduce yourself to them, letting the individuals know that connecting with them is something you’re definitely looking forward to.
On the big day you’ll be surprised to see the simple act of reaching first paying off; you might even be asked to coffee or lunch as many other things fall into place just because you were proactive enough to create connections before hand.
Look for the uncomfortable
In any event there’s always that person uncomfortable and at a loss about where to start and who to talk with. Take a few minutes and watch around, especially if it’s a big event; you’ll always find nervous people having a bad time socially. Approach them and introduce yourself and follow it up with the same old line that works all the time (you look equally uncomfortable as I am!). After a little chuckle there’s likelihood you’ll have quality time sharing information and contacts. This is how lots of people have come to meet CEOs of top companies globally and creators of promising start-ups where your services or products are needed.
Listen and ask
In any relationship listening is very important, which sadly not everyone is able to. Remember in networking you must improve your listening skills. It’s not just listening as you conjure a response but actively listening to everything that is said, reflecting upon it. Certainly, you might get something out of the conversation but you cannot unless you gift them with undivided attention and your time.
In the same breathe after you’ve listened for a while you definitely have to talk. Keep your interaction and conversation running by asking questions in the process demonstrating your interest on the other individual. Remember people will never be tired of talking about themselves. The idea is indulging them a little in between with questions. Above all be as accommodating as you can by thinking about the company or person as much as you think about yourself. It means making yourself useful to the individual and finding ways of making their life or company better or a lot more comfortable.
Don’t ask or request anything while networking
The mistake with modern networking is that it has turned out to be very transactional. Rather, seek to build your network for the sake of it. That little favour you give to someone without expecting anything in return just to keep them within your network might end up opening very many doors in future.
Also remember not to limit your networking contacts and networks. Most people just network within folks from their industries alone. Seek to meet or connect with anyone from any industry, influential or not. Just find time. The most successful networkers with Heads of State, CEOs and fortune 500 businesses under their wrap have very broad and interesting networking range that knows zero boundary of ideology, geography, occupation or industry. They might just be the connector you needed to land into another level or give you the most significant advice you’ve never had.
Don’t forget to aim as high as you can and avoid missing opportunities just because you felt intimidated by people who might appear very senior. Your ego might be bruised a little time and again but the results could be something worth writing home about.
Dress for the occasion
It’s important to dress as appropriately as possible for the networking occasion. The aim here is dressing well to look a little bit striking than most people around you. It doesn’t mean dressing as if you are out to hit the catwalk or royal ball but enough to make everyone know you really care. Let everyone who looks at you think you’re an individual they’d like to meet.
Avoid causes of stress
Chat introduction in face to face conversations is the largest cause of panic and stress; it can make any networking event a disaster. Without introducing yourself talking to people is practically impossible. In fact, when you think about it there’s no real reason to stress yourself about anything. You’ll find it way easier and simple to execute than you thought. Start by being as concise and short as possible. Lengthy sentences could display your nervousness and stress. Start by saying who you are and where you work in short sentences as you seek to make your points clear and as understandable as you can. Unless the individual(s) ask for technical stuff, avoid talking about them. Always approach the situation as if you’re nothing so that you don’t think the great products you want to sell or your reputation precedes you. This will make you patient and humble.
Never be late
Arriving on time is very important and sends out a clear message to the people you’re about to meet about your respectful, organised and disciplined nature. If you’re stressed up or nervous arriving late means you’ll find everyone there. In such a scenario meeting your goals will probably be very hard. On the other hand, if you arrived early you’ll only find a few people and the meeting will be easier to handle as you get to break the ice and relax way before the really networking begins.
Whether you are a melancholic introvert or the sanguine extrovert, in person networking is always a challenge. By arriving early you can actually look like the party host or the master of the ceremony. As those you’re meeting walk into the room where there’re probably lots of strangers you can be sure they’ll be very nervous. The best strategy is ensuring you’re the first person (even if a stranger to them) they meet and transform into their new contact. Try out a mere ‘hi’ and see how miraculous a simple hello followed by your name can be as you indicated how delighted you’re to finally meet the contact in person. It’s the little things that do wonders, particularly to get a networking event started on the right foot.
Before you go…
Remember that the business networking is all about quality prospects, not quantity. Do not distribute your business cards to everybody in the place and talk to each one for 2 minutes. If you can have 3 to 6 intense conversations with entrepreneurs, the event will be a success for you.
Telle me about your tips in good business networking. Let met know !