Business networking is one of the most productive ways to boost your business. As a business owner you should seek out and attend business events that are full of potential clients, referral partners, joint-venture partners and people that can help you achieve your goals.
Once you start going to live business networking events if you’re like me you’ll end up hooked on them. However, before attending your first business event it’s important to understand your goals and motivations for attending and to plan how you’re going to make the most of the opportunities presented. Whilst remembering that the actual event itself is not the end, it’s actually the beginning.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of a business networking event.
Take Business Cards
You have to take business cards with you, not to give them out, although you will but mostly to give you an excuse to ask people for theirs. But, people do sometimes follow up with you based on receiving your card at a business event. Try to make sure your business card truly represents what you do and ensure you utilize both sides of the card.
Cease the Hard Sell
At business events you’re not trying to sell anyone anything, instead you want to be a resource to everyone you meet so that you can help them with their needs. In business, people help those who help others and shy away from those simply wanting to take all of the time, so become that resource center.
Work on Your Introduction
You want to be able to describe what you do to people without sounding like a robot or confusing them, over the years I heard some great catch phrases and introductions and some of these really do stat with you, so work on yours. Try to show how you solve your customers’ problems … for example this is one that I often use … “I help businesses set realistic online marketing goals and then I help them achieve these goals.”
Don’t Try and Meet Everyone
Yes, you want to meet people, but it is much better to focus on meeting just a few interesting people at each event. If you meet more than say five people at each event, you probably won’t be able to remember them. Of course it depends on how long the actual event is, but for an hour-long event, meeting and connecting with three to five people is a great result.
Since you’re not going to try to meet everyone, spend time talking to each person you meet, but mostly spend time listening. To listen more, ask leading questions about the people you meet and they are going to remember you more, the more you get to talk about themselves the better they will remember you.
Get Their Business Cards
Once you’re finished taking to someone, find time either during the business networking event or just after to write something memorable on the back of their business card. In this way, you can use it to follow up later. The follow-up is where the business is won or lost, not at the actual event.
Once the event is over, within a day or two you should aim to follow up with each person that you personally spoke with and that you obtained a business card from. The follow-up is the most important aspect of attending business events as this is helps form long lasting relationships and generate new business.
Another factor that can make a huge difference to the success you achieve in going to business events is to make sure that you stand out in some way. Many people have trouble remembering names at events and matching them with faces. If you can wear something or say something that keeps makes people remember you, so much the better. Differentiating yourself from all of the other business owners at the event is essential if you want to maximize results.