Whether it’s twice a week or once a month, sometimes it can feel like you are dragging yourself to an event where networking can (gasp!) feel like it’s a waste of time. Consider this a reminder to focus your networking for success.
Here are five tips to focus your business networking:
1. Do your homework.
Get the right events on your schedule. Look up other attendees in advance, so you will know who you want to meet. When you know, then you can have a plan for your goals. Are these decision makers? Gatekeepers? Tailor your elevator pitch to that.
2. Set at least one goal for yourself before the event.
Set an expectation to gauge your results. Define one thing that will be an accomplishment:
~ make one quality connection
~ reconnect with a former connection
~ hone your elevator pitch
~ show your support to the host, personally thank them
3. Trading business cards with someone new is always worthwhile.
When you meet someone face-to-face you make an impression that is personal; something that can’t happen in a phone call or an email. Small talk often uncovers common, personal connections which can open a door. Make the most of it.
4. You truly never know where your next opportunity will come from.
You won’t meet a new opportunity inside your car on your commute home. Be open to the serendipity of chance when you are obligated to a social or business function.
5. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.
This is crucial. This is the why. While you are networking think about how you will reach out to qualified leads and referral makers. Will you connect on LinkedIn? Will you share an article of mutual interest? Well-timed, relevant follow-up is crucial. Create a schedule for leads and connections that have potential: After two days send an email (that is not a sales pitch). In a month meet them for coffee.
When you mingle you are practicing your networking skill set; make the most of it.