Networking: Where Business Meets Social

Networking should be an important part of your Marketing mix.  It provides a great opportunity for relationship building, brand awareness and lead generation.  Networking in itself can be a full-time job if you let it.  Time is a scarce commodity these days.  People are so busy these days that they are looking for ways to combine their business with socializing, and looking to attend networking events that will help them achieve their business goals while building effective relationships at the same time. So how do you choose which events to go to?    It is important to attend the events that will provide you with the best value for your time.   Effective networking demands that you know who you are and what you want before you can effectively communicate and establish a mutually rewarding, sustainable relationship with someone.

I am constantly amazed by some people that lack common sense, so here are some tips (in no particular order) that will help you with successful networking.

Be Minty Fresh
Have you ever talked to someone after they’ve had a tuna fish sandwich and raw onions?  It’s not pleasant!  Brush your teeth.  Suck on a mint. Chew gum.  Just don’t be that stinky breath dude.

When you’re in a networking situation it is not all about you.  Focus your attention on the speaker and concentrate on what is being said.

Don’t Sell
You know how it drives you crazy when you walk into a store and the clerk immediately jumps on you and tries to sell you on something when you don’t even know what you’re looking for yet?   Don’t be like that crazy clerk and start pitching right off the bat.

Ask Questions
Find common ground and see how you can be of value to the person you are talking to.  Ask people what they do, who they know,  where they’ve been, how can you help them.  They may not be in the market for your particular product or service at this time but you may be able to connect them with someone that can help them with what they are looking for and vice versa.

It is great catching up with old friends and acquaintances; but if you really want to maximize your result see out someone that you have never met before and introduce yourself.

Be Yourself
People like to do business with people that they like, so be genuine.

Be Prepared
Make sure you have enough business cards for everyone in the room. There is nothing worse than making a great connection and not having a single business card left to give them.

Take Notes
Jot a note on the back of the business card about your conversation.  This will make the follow up process much easier!

Follow Up
Send a follow up email, or pick up the phone and call, within 48 hours of meeting.  Remind them of where you met, what you discussed and set up a time to have a more in depth conversation of you can be of assistance to them.  So many people forget this step.  Don’t be that guy!

Follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook.  Send them a request to connect on LinkedIn. You never know what kind of opportunities that you may attract through a networking event!