Making Connections at a networking Event Part I

You are a small business owner and you know you need more customers. You have heard that Networking Events can be a good place to meet people and acquire leads for your business. The only problem is; you are uncomfortable around people. Maybe you don’t think you can have meaningful conversations or perhaps you are afraid you have to sell.

Here are some ideas that I have gathered from over the years that may be of some help.

First, prepare for the event:
–    Try to find out who will be there so you know whom you want to meet.
–    Prepare a 15 to 30 second introduction to tell people who you are and why they may want to know more. This is sometimes called the elevator speech. An example might be, “Hi I’m John with XYZ corporation; I help Healthcare providers reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow while improving patient relationships.”
–    
Prepare and practice a few questions to help you get to know others comfortably.
o    How is the meeting or show working for you?
o    What have you thought of the presenter/s
o    Have you been to one of these meetings before
o    How are you affiliated with the event, (Chamber, Association, etc.)?

Prepare for how you will respond when they ask you what you do. My suggestion is to keep it very brief and not make it into a sales pitch. Instead, ask for a card and see if you can schedule a follow up for the next week or even the next day if you are at a convention and you can break away for coffee or a meal.

It is also important to keep moving. Make sure that once you have made a connection you are able to move on. So you can say things like,  “It was great meeting you Cindy; I will call you next week.”

There are some other things we can do to ensure that these connections are deeper and more engaging; I will share those in the next Post.

Take good care and make good connections.

2 Comments:

  1. Hi John,

    This is great advice. I’d like to add a few more thoughts to this.

    If you are naturally reserved, set yourself a goal, a stretch goal, but not an impossible goal. Say, to meet three new people. Once you’ve accomplished that goal, relax. Leave if you must. Stretch yourself without scaring yourself to death.

    Secondly, make it all about them. Practice your elevator speech but also practice 4 or 5 open ended questions that will allow them to talk about themselves at great length. The more they talk about themselves, the better “conversationalist” you become. At least in their eyes.

    Thanks John…. Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks Dave,

    You are absolutely right goals can provide you with concrete feedback and help you move forward. More importantly at a Networking event the more we make it about them the more they will open up to us. This in turn is what helps us build relationships.

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