Productive Business Networking

October 20, 2015 9:51 am

Business networking can be a valuable strategy to: get referrals, connect with prospective partners/clients, gather insights on innovation in your field or merely expose your name or brand.  Unfortunately networking can be overwhelming meeting new people, keeping up with conversations and making those connections convert into customers.  Here are some tips to make the most of your networking events.

Before the Event –

  • Gather your supplies including business cards, pens, paper and any marketing brochures you could refer to if the conversation leans in that direction.
  • Know your goals prior to heading into the networking event.  Do you hope to gather names of prospective clients?  Do you want to nurture an existing relationship?
  • Know the audience – Find out who will be attending the event through the online RSVP list so you know what to expect.
  • Remember the dress code.  Professional business attire is usually expected to give a positive impression unless there is a specific theme or location that lends itself to a different dress code.  (golf, harbor cruise)

At the Event

  • Check out the registration table for names that you may want to connect with.  If you are nervous, look for familiar names to start off with to break the ice.
  • Smile!
  • Keep your hands free for shaking hands.  If there is food available you may want to keep eating brief so you can talk freely and have your hands available to shake hands or distribute business  cards.
  • Have a list of topics to refer to if conversations fade.  Be interested and use active listening when part of a conversation.
  • Hand out and gather those cards!  The back of the cards can be used to keep notes on each person. (That may have to happen in the car after the event.)
  • Be confident.  Speak clearly and rely on your confidence to guide you through conversations.
  • Be genuine.  People can tell when you are putting on an act.  So be yourself and speak from the heart.

After the Event

  • Debrief after the event. This may mean writing up notes on items of interest or questions you may have promised to get answered.
  • Follow up – Use those business cards you carefully gathered and follow through with an email or phone call. If you live locally an in-person meeting over coffee may be in order.
  • Connect through social media. Find people that you connected with on LinkedIn or other social media to stay in touch.
  • Enter contacts. Put all new contacts in your list at the office.

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