1. Focus on giving rather than getting
A mindset I like to use at events is “what I can give” to people I meet rather than "what I can get." It feels much more expansive, warm, and connecting. Even if I cannot help someone with what I do, perhaps I can refer him or her to someone who can. Connections are made when you offer to give, without the attachment of receiving something back.
TIP: After meeting someone, put the focus of your conversation on them. Be curious about them! When they ask about you, share your elevator pitch.
TIP: In regard to the elevator speech, when someone asks you what do you do, provide a clear, crisp, and compelling response. It is virtually impossible to build a thriving and sustainable career/business if you cannot clearly articulate the service you provide, as well as the benefits/results people can gain from utilizing your service or product. Therefore, you will want to be sure you can articulate what you do in such a way that people say, “Wow! You can help me with that? I want to know more.” Your response to what you do should be a simple, clear, succinct sentence that describes who you serve and what you do for them. You may have also heard this statement called your USP (unique service proposition).
2. Long-Term benefits vs. immediate results
Many people attending a networking group for the first time start out expecting to come home with a bunch of new clients or job opportunities. Don’t just go to one or two events expecting big results. The key is to get to know people and consistently contribute value and referrals to others, and then receive the same.
TIP: Scan the room and pick two to four people you would like to meet.
TIP: Show up in service. Introduce yourself with a smile.
3. It is about relationship building vs. hard selling
For people who are worried about going to networking events because they do not want to seem pushy and too sales oriented, this should give you some relief. Successful networking is not at all about pushy sales or hard selling tactics. Instead, authentic networking is about helping others. When you show up as someone who generously shares resources, connections, and referrals, others will want to be a part of your network. Networking is ultimately about creating trusted relationships with others so that you can confidently give and attract quality referrals/clients/patients.
TIP: Go! (Don’t chicken out.) Arrive early. Dress appropriately and professionally (not as if you are going for a night out on the town).
4. Being interested vs. trying to be interesting
Many people at networking events launch into long-winded, self-serving infomercial monologues, and it is boring! You feel like you are being marketed/sold/promoted to during the encounter. I know many people are worried about how to be interesting when networking. Here’s the real secret of being interesting — be interested in other people.
When I am meeting people at an event, I give a very short intro to myself but mainly ask them open-ended questions to learn more about them. When you show much interest in other people, they open up, and they share something juicy about themselves. You find out ways you could help them, and you both enjoy the conversation a lot more. Now that is interesting!
TIP: Have fun with networking. Imagine meeting incredible people who love supporting you and you them.
TIP: Practice lowering your barriers and commit to being you.
5. Follow-up vs. waiting for something to happen
The biggest mistake people make in networking is that they do not follow up afterwards. When you meet someone who is a potential client, strategic alliance partner, referral partner, employer, or networking ally, take action and follow up. Send an email of appreciation, a thank-you note, a resource or article, a referral, and so on. Be creative. Even with the simplest follow-up, you’ll stand out from the crowd. (Notice next time how many people follow up with you; it is shockingly low). So follow up! It will be appreciated.
TIP: Get their business card. Take a minute to jot down a few notes on their card about what you discussed, especially the agreed follow-up steps and what problems or desired results you could help them with.
I am looking forward to networking with you at RDH Under One Roof! See you soon!
Kristine Hodsdon RDH, MSEC
Director, RDH eVillage
Kristine’s Disclosures: Kristine’s website is http://www.kristineahodsdon.com and she is a practice management consultant and trainer with Pride Institute.