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    Make the Most of Networking Events in 3 Simple Steps
    The Vault

    Make the Most of Networking Events in 3 Simple Steps

    August 2016

    Meeting new people is an essential part of any small business owner’s week. Good networking events help us develop a professional rapport with others, expose us to new ideas by allowing us to connect with leaders in different sectors, and give us a break from the day-to-day grind of our own workdays. I love a good networking event.  But too often I hear from clients (and my own employees) that networking events just aren’t that productive for them.  “I like networking, but I keep seeing the same people at the same events and I don’t feel like I get anything done.”  Sound familiar?

    Good networking should go beyond just meeting people.  The true goal, the one many businesspeople lose sight of, is to develop professional rapports with others that will deepen over time into trusted -- and trusting -- relationships.  You’re not there just to have fun, or to make quick sales.  In fact, don’t employ a sales approach at all.   Consider yourself there to make new connections, to develop relationships in which future sales can be closed (strong relationships yield mutual exchange of contacts).  When you approach networking in this way, you can ask meaningful questions that get to the heart of who these new people are and what drives their businesses.  What’s more, this non-sales approach will set you apart from your competition.  Selfless questions make people remember you, and be willing to meet with you again.  That’s the real critical step for securing more business.

    With that in mind, follow these three simple steps at your next networking event

    1. Think quality, not quantity.  Make it a point to limit the number of contacts at each event.  Focus on the relevance of this contact to your business, and how good a connection you’re making.  Are you really compatible?  You’ll leave the event with far less business cards, but 3-4 quality contacts are better than 50 so-so ones.  Attend events regularly, and you’ll build up a cache of high-quality contacts in good time.
    2. Limit your time with each individual.  Again, your purpose is to introduce yourself to new people and set the stage for new business.  You can’t do that effectively if you spend 45 minutes with just one person.  Invest 8-10 minutes in each person, ask those quality questions, exchange business cards, and then move on.
    3. Take notes.  On the back of the card you just received, write the date and name of the event where you met the person, along with a few quick notes about the conversation. When you follow-up with the person later, you will have something to refer to and be able to take a more personal approach.  Noting small details can set you apart from your competition.

    Make the most of your time at networking events, and use them as opportunities to distinguish yourself from others in your industry.  These simple approaches will help you do just that.

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