Do you suffer from “Butterfly-itis” at the very mention of networking at business functions?
If you answered yes, you are not alone!
Many business people and entrepreneurs get a bit uncomfortable when it comes right down to walking up to someone and starting a conversation. Many others are concerned about getting effective results from the time they spend networking.
The process doesn’t have to be traumatic, scary, or a waste of time. When done properly, it can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help to make your business very successful.
Use the following 10 commandments to help you through your next business networking event:
1. Have the tools to network with you at all times.
These include an informative name badge, business cards, brochures about your business, and a pocket-sized business card file containing cards of other professionals whom you can refer.
2. Set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet
Identify a reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group. If you feel inspired, set a goal to meet 15 to 20 people and make sure you get all their cards. If you don’t feel so hot, shoot for less. In either case, don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.
3. Act like a host, not a guest
A host is expected to do things for others, while a guest sits back and relaxes. Volunteer to help greet people. If you see visitors sitting, introduce yourself and ask if they would like to meet others. Act as a conduit.
4. Listen and ask questions
Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately. After you’ve learned what another person does, tell them what you do. Be specific, but brief. Don’t assume they know your business.
5. Don’t try to close a deal
These events are not meant to be a vehicle to hit on business people to buy your products or services. Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals. Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the end of it.