If you’re new to networking, it can be confusing. There are different types of networking meetings. There are very structured groups, like BNI. These usually are restricted to one member per business category. They are very focused on doing business within the group and building referrals for each other. Another type is social networking – this is what SEVEN is all about. In a social networking group, the focus is not on selling but on building relationships with other businesses. We don’t restrict our membership and there might be several people in the same industry at any meeting.
So you’ve been invited to a networking meeting. Maybe you found it on a calendar like Networking Phoenix or Meetup. You have your business cards and you’re SURE you’re ready to make some contacts. You walk in, scope out the room, and find yourself overwhelmed. What exactly are you supposed to do? Here are a 10 tips to make your networking experience not only productive but fun too:
Top 10 Tips To Terrific Networking
- Be on time. Arrive early and stay a little later. Relationships are built before and after the meeting.
- Set clear goals for yourself for each meeting you attend. Do you want to meet 5 new people? Do you want to invite someone to a heart to heart? Your goals may change from meeting to meeting. Make sure you are clear in your mind what you want to accomplish that day.
- Ask yourself how you can help other people. Networking is about how you can help others, not what’s in it for you. It’s about more than just showing up, shaking hands, and collecting business cards that will end up in a drawer.
- Listen! This is one of the most important things you can do. Really listen to what the people you are meeting are telling you. If you listen, you’ll discover how you can help them.
- Sit at a table with people you don’t know. Take the opportunity to meet new people.
- Smile and make eye contact with the people you meet. Make sure you give the person you are talking to your full attention.
- Turn your phone on silent. When you text, check your email, or answer phone calls, you send the message that the people you are with aren’t important.
- Strive for quality not quantity in your relationships.
- Focus on building relationships, not selling products. Selling comes later.
- Everyone usually has the opportunity to introduce themselves to the group. Make sure you’re prepared with a great 30 second commercial.
Continue to build relationships by meeting with other members outside of the meeting. Have those heart-to-heart conversations and get to know the other person. You have a better chance of developing a great business relationship, and you might also make a new friend as well!