Having face-to-face interaction is always the best way to meet people. Email and social media might be time efficient but there is no substitute for a good old fashioned handshake and the exchange of business cards. You are also able to see a person’s body language which can tell you a lot about whether the person is interested in what you have to say or not.
Some people tell me that they go out to networking events a lot but they do not get very many leads.
Here are 3 tips to make your networking more effective:
1. Choose your networking events wisely
You need to choose events where your target audience frequents. If you have health related products, your time is better spent at groups that cater to people who are health conscious. Showing up at a small business networking workshop is not going to give you as good results as a health talk held at a wellness center.
2. Be prepared with a strong marketing message
You only have one opportunity to make a first impression and a short period of time to get a person’s attention. Make you sure you can concisely say, in 2 or 3 sentences, who you help and how you help them. Too many people tell me what they do instead of telling me what they can do for me.
Your message may change depending on where you are networking. I always practice my pitch out loud before every event.
3. Listen more than you talk
There are a lot of people in the room, so how do you know which ones would be a good fit for your product or service? A good start is to listen to what they say. Find out what they do and what their challenges are. To do this effectively, ask open-ended questions so they cannot give just a yes-no answer.
Unless you want to be perceived as the “pushy” sales person, a better goal for the event is to make contact with people, hear what they have to say and decide whether you want to continue a conversation with them by suggesting another meeting to get to know each other better. This is also a good test to see if the person is really interested in what you do.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many networking events you can attend in a week. To get the biggest bang for your buck, be selective about where you go and go in prepared.