Yesterday, we shared some tips on how you can make networking pay off for you and your business. Today, we'll share the last five tips.
6. Relax and be real. No matter whom you converse with, focus exclusively on them and really listen to what they say rather than jumping ahead mentally to how you’ll respond. Keep asking questions that encourage the other person to open up. Their answers will lead to further queries, and you’ll be having a real conversation before you know it, with solid information for effective follow-up. Good listening skills also help you stand out from the crowd, because so few people actually listen well.
7. Use business cards as tiny notepads. Once you’ve established mutual interest, lingering isn’t necessary, so ask for the person’s business card. Most will reciprocate by requesting yours, leaving you both free to move on to another encounter. Even in the digital age, cards still provide a great place to immediately jot notes about what you discussed—especially any specific promises you may have made (don’t trust this critical information to memory!). Taking the time to record these notes will free your mind so you can offer undivided attention to the next person.
8. Q&A your way. You don’t need to be a keynote speaker or moderate a panel to shine light on your brand. When it’s time for Q&A, you can score a glimmer of fame with a great question. Stand up, introduce yourself and what you do, and then ask your question. When the session concludes, don’t be surprised if other attendees approach you. Having the courage to participate in a public forum positions you as a leader others will want to talk to, especially if the better-known presenters are surrounded.
9. Pump the breaks. View session breaks as work time rather than R&R, since they offer an excellent chance to engage fellow attendees in discussion. Approach someone who asked an interesting question during Q&A (see how that works?) and follow up on what they said; perhaps you’ll agree to talk more later, then use the rest of the break to circulate and meet more of your targets. Avoid wasting precious time in endless food lines—decide to eat earlier or later than the crowds, or bring your own survival snacks that can stay in your tote if an impromptu lunch meeting should develop.
10. Follow up faithfully. Don’t wait till you get home to follow up with connections; a brief but prompt email can make all the difference in how well you’re remembered. Using your notes for reference, remind your new friend of your shared experience, tell them you’re glad you met, and provide any information or resources you promised to send. Then check in again at regular intervals after the event. Think long term and be generous; by putting yourself at their disposal for both current and future needs, you can turn brief contacts into solid relationships.
To get read more helpful articles, check out our Supply Lines group!
- “15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi, Conference Commando,” Keith Ferrazzi, founder and chairman, Ferrazzi Greenlight, 2005
- “Three Networking Habits to Drop and What to Do Instead,” Caroline Ceniza-Levine Caroline, forbes.com contributor, 14 June 2013
- “Six Icebreakers that Take the Pain Out of Networking Events,” Kristi Hedges, forbes.com contributor, 30 August 2013
- “Eight Signs You’re a Terrible Networker,” Darrah Brustein, forbes.com contributor, 6 November 2013