Business networking events and mixers are a great way to meet others, and make important connections to build a successful network. Chamber events, organized business networking meetings, and official grand openings are just some of the many places you can meet key contacts. However, are you making the most of these contacts when you meet them? The process of business networking is simple enough on the surface, though most business professionals fail to make favorable impressions during these events. Though many have good intentions, professionals sometimes do more harm than good in some networking environment. The reason for this is simple: most business professionals have very few of the skills necessary to network effectively. The following are some business networking objectives that can help you be successful during business networking events:
The overall goal is simple: Relationships
Build key relationships with other professionals. To do this, you need to let go of the sale and develop a good rapport. Be interested in what he or she has to say, and ask some general questions about his or her business.
Do not sell yourself or services at the event
This sounds unusual I know, because the purpose of going is to get business. Everyone there is trying to sell his or her services. However, the problem is there are no buyers at events. Instead of looking for ways to sell your services, provide referrals, tips, and ideas to others to help them be successful.
Create a reason for follow-up with others
When providing some tips or referrals, offer to meet with your new contact in the near future to discuss how the two of you may work together to capture more business. Remember, people like to do business with friends, so build a friendship with your new business contact.
Do not just hand out your card or flyer and leave
At every event, one or two people think the goal is to hand out cards. This is a huge mistake. Build rapport with someone, and find some like interests. Offer assistance, and work toward a meeting later where you can speak about your products and services.
Always have cards to share with others
Cards should be professionally printed on nice card stock, and ensure they are in good condition when given to others. When you exchange cards, write some brief notes on the back to remind you of the meeting. Notes should include date and place of meeting, as well as some personal details and perhaps some info on how you may lend support to the fellow networker. Avoid using cards printed in a computer, handwritten, and cards with incorrect or missing info. Such cards provide a poor first impression, and tell others you are not a professional.
Make sure to follow-up with your contact immediately
Email the individuals you met, and continue to lend support to solving a simple business challenge. It is also a great idea to call him or her, and seek opportunities to meet to share business resources in person or during a scheduled phone call. Finally, sending nice to meet you cards in the mail is a very effective and often forgotten skill. You will set yourself apart from many networkers, and you will leave your new contact with a very favorable impression about your personal character.
Always remember that building rapport with your new contacts is the most important step in networking. People tend to do business with individuals that they know and trust. If you keep the focus on others, learn about their business, and build a solid rapport, they will likely ask you about your business and then you will have created a very solid business prospect.
Always remember to be more interested than interesting, and you will attract individuals who want to know more about your business, and how they can help you to succeed.