Now more than ever, the buzz is all about getting out there and networking again. Virtual is good, but meeting in-person is best for building rapport and long-lasting connections.
"95% of professionals think that in-person networking is crucial to maintaining long-lasting business relationships." Source: Harvard Business Review
As a serial networker, even I had to rethink making connections after COVID. I set a goal to meet two or three people max at every event, contact them immediately after the event with a phone call or text message to acknowledge our interaction, and follow up that call with a possible next meeting. That’s a way to be memorable, and it works. Why? Because not many people follow up.
Here’s my "A" list to consider before your next in-person networking event, workshop, or gathering where you want to promote yourself for greater visibility and be memorable.
- Appearance: Whether you are a casual or business type, always look your professional best. You have one chance to make a first impression.
- Attitude: Your mindset is everything. Be positive and smile; it’s your best accessory.
- Aim: Set your intentions of why you are networking at the event you are attending. Plan to meet only two or three people and follow up with them.
- Audience: Know who is in the room. How you relate to two types of decision-makers is your success key in reaching your target market. "70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. 30% make decisions to gain something." What problem can you solve that would make them interested in hiring you?
- Approach: Now is your time to shine with a very brief introduction of you and your brand, telling them your name, whom you serve, and what problem you solve. That’s it! Get crystal clear on your introduction/pitch. If you say you work with everyone, you are too general. Know your niche! Are you selfish pitching, which is another major turn-off because it shows no interest in the other person? Not good. The magic is it is never about you. Remember what problem you solve.
- Attention: Making direct eye contact makes the other person feel they are the only person in the room. Avoid scanning the room to look for other people if it’s not going well; it’s rude. Everyone has something interesting to share. Dig deep to ask questions to build rapport.
- Amassing: Congratulations, you hit the jackpot, leaving with a fistful of cards. NO! NO! NO! It’s not about card collecting. It’s about card connecting. If you leave with two or three excellent connections, you have won the game for the evening. Now follow up!
- Avoidance: You avoid or fail any follow-up plan or execution with the connections you made. What was the point of going in the first place? How many people did you say you would get in touch with or do something for and never do it? Why are you avoiding one of the most important reasons why you went?
- Action: Pick up the phone and text or call your new connection with a brief message that you enjoyed meeting them and want to connect again. You will be memorable.
- And the Best tip of all: “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” This quote from Maya Angelou is pure gold.
There are so many more tips; however, I trust this list has triggered at least one or two suggestions that resonate with you so you can work on deeper, more meaningful connections when networking.
Anne Garland, Trainer, Speaker, Author of Secrets of A Serial Networker
CEO, Anne Garland Enterprises, LLC