If you’re like many professionals, you hesitate to go to networking events because you don’t know how to make sure they are worth your time.
We’ve been delivering a training series on effective networking to one of our corporate groups recently and have had many conversations about this with the participants. These are busy, successful professionals from all over Canada. Their time is valuable, and so they want to make sure that when they carve out the time to go to a networking event, it is fruitful for them.
If this sounds like you, try these strategies next time you attend a networking event:
1. Don’t go to networking events only looking to meet immediate, direct prospects for your business.
You will almost always be disappointed, and those you meet will see you coming. Building a strong network is about forming mutually-beneficial relationships for the long term.
2. Listen more than you speak.
Find out about the people you’re meeting; what they do, why it matters, and who they work with. This will help you to determine where they fit into your network. They could be a prospect, but they could also be good for one of your clients, or they could be a potential champion for you. Be open to exploring that.
3. Follow the 5-minute rule.
Don’t get stuck talking to only one or two people for the whole time you’re at the event. Use a short time with each person so you can establish whether you should continue the conversation in a follow-up meeting or coffee where you can dive deeper.
4. Follow up.
When you’re booking time to attend a networking event, also book a time in your calendar when you will follow up with the people you would like to sit down with. This is where the biggest benefit will be seen. If you fail to follow up, then you are leaving most of the opportunity from the event on the table.
Let me know how it goes!