Do you ever attend a networking event and wonder, “what’s the point?” because you leave with little to show for it but superficial connections and a few business cards? Networking doesn’t have to be a waste of time. It can be a great way to gain brand exposure, build your “know, like and trust” factor, and even find new clients!
As you know, I host monthly women’s networking events through my Meetup group, Daring Divas. The goal of these events is to move past superficial chit-chat and business card “drive bys” and connect in an authentic and impactful way.
I’ve seen attendees attract new clients, make new friends, and build powerful business partnerships as a result of Daring Divas networking events. Below, I’d like to share some of my top tips for how to make the most of any networking event so you stop wasting your precious time.
Never show up to a networking event without a goal. Your goal could be to book 2 discovery sessions, make 5 speaking contacts or find 3 joint venture partners for your next launch. What your goal is doesn’t matter so much…but if you don’t have one, you’ll leave with nothing to show for your time but a few business cards. And you probably won’t follow up with them anyway.
Instead of being shy and waiting for people to talk to you, walk up to people and start conversations. Get curious about who they are by asking questions. Show them that you’re genuinely interested.
This type of behavior demonstrates confidence and also helps you be more memorable. Who do you think has the better chance of attracting a new client at a networking event, a shy wallflower or confident social butterfly?
If you struggle to be outgoing at networking events, try this: pretend you’re the host. I don’t mean you should lie to people if you’re not actually the host, but rather, energetically, step into the role of the host.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m shy. If you find me at any networking event other than my own, I struggle to get off the wall and interact in an outgoing way. But put me in a room where I’m the host and my shyness disappears. If you can carry that “host” energy with you to all the networking events you attend, you’ll experience much better results from your networking endeavors.
Don’t stay in your comfort zone by only mingling with people who you think are “at your level.” Make a point to be daring and connect with the high rollers in the room…those people who you’re scared to talk to because you think they wouldn’t want to talk with little old you. When you connect with the most influential people in the room your business will grow faster.
If you make a connection with a potential client, schedule a discovery session with them right then. Don’t wait to follow up later. That will only lead to wasted time playing email tag and maybe losing the lead all together.
If someone expresses interest in working with you, say something like this: “There’s a lot of distraction here today, and I’d love to be able to sit down with you and learn a little more about your needs and how I might be able to best support you. Let’s schedule a complimentary 30-minute session for later this week. How does that sound? Then get out your calendars and schedule it.
If you set a goal to find 3 joint venture partners for your upcoming launch, don’t keep that goal to yourself. Tell people so they can help you! You can do this a couple ways:
1) When you stand up to introduce yourself, share your goal with the group, or
2) If you’re talking with someone one-on-one, you could ask “what do you want to get out of this networking event today and how can I support you?” Once they share their answer, you share your goal with them. You might just have the perfect connections for each other!