Woody Allen once said 80% of success is showing up. You could be the best artist or consultant in the world but no one would know about you or your product or service if you don’t make connections and know the right people. You may never be able to make a living at what you do best.
It is imperative that people know who you are. The more face to face recognition at local networking events you can get in the better! Networking events have become very popular during this economic time. These events provide an environment for potential opportunities, employment, and once-in-a-lifetime business deals.
The majority of business opportunities come from connecting with the right people at the right time. You have to get out of your office a few times a month and take the time to attend networking events hosted by other companies. Networking within your peer group limits your options. One common mistake is cultivating your network only within your peer group, which can limit your options. Even if you are a top exec, you have to network at all levels because you don’t know where someone is going to wind up
Here are some tips to get the MOST out of networking while growing your business:
1. Limit yourself on drinks. Whether it’s a professional or social event, you don’t want to completely let your guard down. People talk and so do you once loosened up a little!
2. Listen more. Studies show that when you ask people questions about themselves, rather than talk about yourself, they come away from the conversation with a more favorable impression of you
3. Gather your “social currency” beforehand. Nobody magically has interesting things to talk about. You need to read up on current events, watch popular movies and TV shows, go places and “bookmark” things that are compelling conversation starters.
4. Break the ice. Paying someone a compliment, commenting on the food or scenery, or asking the other person how he/she knows the host are some of the common and easiest ways to jump start the conversation.
5. Stay on message. Don’t feel the need to fill up awkward silences with complaints or negative gossip your personal life or someone else’s life.
6. Don’t be desperate. Be natural, and don’t hound someone for a job, contact, or favor. Establish rapport and get their contact info.
7. Follow up! Even if you think that person can’t provide you with what you need at the time, always follow-up with a “nice to meet” you email. Who knows, this contact could be beneficial in the future. For those potential contacts you made that could enhance your current business. Follow up within 24 hours.