More tips for your business networking
In an earlier column, I discussed some of the fundamentals of participating in a business networking event. Recent networking events reminded me of some additional steps you can take to ensure the event is a success for you and the others.
Invite others into your conversation. During one event I was seated at a table with three other networkers. As I left to get a soda, I noticed another attendee standing off by herself. I approached her and invited her to join us.
You recall those times when you stood by yourself, and how happy you were when someone approached to chat. Now it’s your turn. At various times during the meeting, glance around the room. Do you see another attendee standing by himself or herself? Approach and introduce yourself. It’s the professional thing to do, and it just may open the door to a business relationship.
Inquire about the other person. It’s very easy to dominate a conversation. Someone asks what you do, and you launch into an explanation that lasts 15 minutes. If you’re lucky, the person will hang around. Train yourself to offer brief replies, in benefit-oriented language when possible, then turn the conversation around. Better yet, take the initiative, and open the dialogue by asking about the other person. Even better, ask questions about topics unrelated to work.
One of my businesses is a travel club. I enjoy talking with others about the world of travel. One gentleman mentioned that he and his wife like to take cruises. I’m curious about those, so I asked him several questions. We enjoyed a long conversation about the topic. No sales came out of it, but that’s not the point. I was genuinely interested in gaining his insight into cruises. I could tell later he appreciated the conversation.
Listen, take notes while others are talking. Many people attend business networking events solely for the purpose of scoring a sale. That’s a selfish approach. In addition to occasionally buying or referring a person, you can also learn from fellow attendees. During one meeting a business owner offered me several suggestions for promoting my businesses. They were new concepts, and I was intrigued about them. I took detailed notes, including contact information.
The notes make it easier to follow-up, of course, but they also show that you value the person’s recommendations. You may have photo-like memory, but you won’t recall everything said to you. Show genuine interest in what the person is saying by providing solid eye contact and writing down the information.
Donate a door prize. Prizes are popular with attendees and are an inexpensive way for you to promote your business. Perhaps your business doesn’t have products to give away. Mine doesn’t either. What do you do? Give away someone else’s stuff. I give away copies of a book written by an uncle.
Go online and purchase several copies of a book (or some other item) that is useful to business people. You can find a number of items in the $10 – $15 range. It need not be pricey; it’s the thought that counts. Offer one as a door prize during each networking event (remember to include a business card). You will be offered a chance to introduce the item, and at the same time, drop a small plug for your business. It’s a very inexpensive marketing tool.
What have you learned from attending business networking events? What techniques or tips have worked for you? Feel free to comment below; I’d love to hear from you. And, can you do me a favor? If you found value in this post, please share it by using the buttons below.
For additional suggestions on how to build your business, see “Conferences are an important part of marketing efforts” and “Write trade articles for additional exposure.”
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