Events can be a great way to make meaningful connections that if managed appropriately can lead to building quality relationships with potential customers, or at the very least gain you credibility and trust.
Here are a few tips to make your next networking event a more impactful experience.
1. Have the right mindset
It’s frustrating when we hear people say, “I went to that event, but I didn’t get any business from it.” People do business with people that they trust and it’s not likely that you will build that trust in your first interaction. Networking events should be seen as opportunities to make valuable connections – not necessarily sales.
2. Go in with a plan
Networking events are generally anywhere from an hour to an hour and half with sometimes over 100 people in attendance. It is unrealistic to assume that you’ll be able to meet and talk with everyone in the room so make a plan and set realistic goals that you want to accomplish while you’re there.
3. Be a resource
A great way to establish trust and credibility is to position yourself as a resource. Ask questions to determine how you might be able to help someone you meet. Whether it’s offering business advice or providing them with a referral, if they see you as a trusted advisor, they’re more likely to return the favor.
4. Don’t be afraid to end a conversation
It happens all the time. You strike up a conversation and the next thing you know its 20 minutes into the event and you’ve only talked to one person. Everyone is there for the same reason – to meet people, so don’t be afraid to let the person know you enjoyed speaking with them and politely excuse yourself from the conversation.
5. Follow up!
There is no point in making new connections if you aren’t going to follow up afterwards. Make sure you do so in a timely manner while your interaction with the person is still fresh in their mind.
6. Show up and be consistent
Networking and your Chamber membership is just like anything else: you get out of it what you put into it. Determine which programs and opportunities work best for you and make it a priority to attend on a consistent basis.