5 Quick Tips for Networking

As the saying goes, time is money.  And attending live events can be a cash cow – or a total bust. But networking, online and in person, goes along with running a successful business. It’s all in how you plan, execute and follow up.

I know “networking” can conjure up images of events with massive amounts of people all shoving business cards into your hand. I hated going to networking events. For years I avoided them like the plague. And now I’m the Managing Director for the Los Angeles chapter of eWomenNetwork. But that’s because this style of connecting – my style of connecting, is different then the old school ways of the past. Here are 5 quick and easy tips for you to implement immediately into your networking strategy

As you prepare to leave for the event, I want you to consider the #1 and most important tip for easy successful networking that will generate leads and income for you and help you build relationships – which is what this is REALLY allllll about!

  1. Bring an attitude of serving, not selling.
    You are there to make potential connections – connections which start the conversation which leads to collaboration. This isn’t a wham bam thank you ma’am – it’s all about connections and building relationships. You need to go with the idea of how can you help the others you will meet, how can you serve them, how can you connect them with others in your circle. And by having that type of attitude when walking in the door, you WILL see results.Have you ever walked into an event, met the first person and had their business card shoved in your face. What is your first reaction to that? You take it because it’s being forced into your hand – but you know nothing about them, and frankly, I’m already turned off – and it’s all about them. They don’t care what you do – all they care about is what you can do for them. So begin the event –whether it’s a 2 hour networking social time or a 2 day event, with the correct attitude. (This is not to say don’t bring your business cards – what it is saying is don’t use them as a crutch.)
  2. Don’t be late.
    In fact, arrive a little early – by getting there right at the beginning, it’s easier to get into a conversation with people.  It’s not packed and crazy frantic – there will be others there early as well and groups and conversations aren’t in full swing so it’s easy to step into a conversation. If you start attending the same group month after month too, you will meet more and more people – and those people you have met the month before and connected with will introduce you to others.  One of the other things I’ve done by arriving early is offered to help the organizer – sometimes even helping with registration and checking people in. That is a great way to meet everyone and then move into the room and easily pick up a conversation.
  3. Relax and smile!
    You want to make a great first impression – we all know about first impressions! Start with your smile – you come across as warm, friendly and engaging. Give a firm handshake – I learned that early. The little lady limp handshake – NO.  You need a handshake that says hello, welcome, I want to connect with you. Look into the eyes of the person you are connecting with – not all around the room for the next person you want to meet. The most successful networkers are those who are good at making the conversation comfortable. They make you feel special, they really listen with their ears and their eyes, they repeat your name – it’s a conversation with them not AT you.

    Speaking of conversation….

  4. Be prepared with what you are going to ask when you get into that conversation.
    Yes, conversation. As a friend of mine calls it small talk.  Have a few questions in your back pocket that you can easily ask and begin a conversation.  The timeless advice offered by Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends & Influence People is that you “allow the other person to do a great deal of the talking.”The easiest way to keep the other person talking and loving you the entire time is to ask an open-ended questions. Why? Because an open-ended question requires more than a yes or no response and shows that you are interested in the other person. These types of questions help to build rapport.We talk a lot about our 30 second elevator pitch. But here is the thing ladies and gents – we need to get the idea of it being a “pitch” out of our head! We are trying to build relationships and by starting with a hard sell or pitch the minute we meet someone, the wall goes up. Get the conversation started. People do business with other people they connect with so blurting out your elevator pitch may not be the way to entice them to get to know you.

    Now, if the person you are speaking with asks you what you do, be ready with an easy description of what it is, not some long convoluted story. In fact, have you ever asked someone what they do and they go on for what seems like hours. I’ve actually caught myself glazing over thinking how can I get away! So view it as sharing your passion, your enthusiasm for what you are doing and how you are helping and serving others. And then ask them to share what they do – and hopefully they’ll share their passion as well.

  5. When is the right time for the business card exchange?
    Sometimes, it’s never a right time. There are those people you meet who you would never do business with. I have a stack of their cards on my desk. But when you have a conversation with someone and it moves into the business conversation about what you do and you know this is a good fit – ie. a collaboration, or you know someone who could use their service, it’s time to ask for their card.  Then make a few notes on their card so you remember who they are and what you were thinking about doing together or who you are going to connect them to. BUT REMEMBER – by exchanging business cards, unless you ask, this is not permission to add them to your list for ezines, etc.The final tip in live networking is the most critical!

    BONUS TIP…. Follow up.  This is the most critical part of any networking experience – and often the thing that gets dropped. But only in the follow up does it turn into a potential collaboration and generate the income.Follow up with your connections as quickly as possible – within a couple of days is important. I typically send a quick email, reminding them where I met them and providing whatever information we discussed. But picking up the phone, especially if this was someone where there was mutual interest in doing something together, can seal the deal. I can’t tell you how important using the phone has become again – a lost art in the chatter of emails, texts and social media posts!

    If you have other ideas on networking, I hope you will share below. It’s all about building relationships and engagement. What you sow, you will reap. And making the connection to start the conversation is the first step!

If you find yourself in the Los Angeles area, I’d love for you to come connect, converse and collaborate with the eWomenNetwork Los Angeles Chapter! Details can be found here: https://ewomennetwork.com/chapters/los-angeles-588

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