Do you ever feel that the “networking event rules” ought to be posted at the door of every networking venue?
- How many times have you come home with a pocketful of business cards and not known what to do with them?
- Are you annoyed when you start receiving someone’s newsletter and you hardly remember who they are?
- Don’t you just hate it when someone you just met tries to “sell” you something?
If these have been your experiences with networking let me give you some tips.
1. Networking events are great opportunities to meet new people and catch up with those we know. We have about 90 seconds to give a new person a quick idea of who we are and what we do. Once we have exchanged business cards we can decide if this is someone we want to know more about….or not. If yes, make sure you follow up either that same day or within the next day or so….so they will remember who you are. And remember: This is not the time to be selling anything!!
2. Once a meeting has been arranged we will now have the chance to learn more about who they are and what they do and vice versa. Following this exchange we can decide if we might be making a new friend, if they may have need of our product or services, if we might be interested in their services or products or if there is an opportunity for some sort of collaboration. This might also be the time to see if sharing newsletters or blog sites etc. would be appropriate. Now a relationship can begin and grow from this exploratory meeting, or not.
3. With regard to the cards collected…… I use the two pocket filing system at such events….the cards I plan on following up with , go into my right hand pocket, the others, in the left. I review those choices when I get home, sometimes moving cards from one pile to the other and then actually discard those I have not chosen to pursue. The ones I wish to follow up on, I either call or send an email that night or the next day. If anyone from the discarded group contacts me, I will generally give them a “second chance” since they made an effort to follow up with me.
4. Finally, remember to have fun….this is what your business should be about….enjoying yourself. As Michael Gerber says, “we should be working on our business, not in our business.” Networking is part of working on our business as it helps us to set up strategic alliances, build a valuable network of contacts and familiarize ourselves with the business community.