I have to say I am not that keen on attending so called networking events; the desperate pursuing the disinterested whilst being watched by the desolate. Quel horreur!
But if you have to attend here are 5 simple rules you can apply which will increase the chances of you salvaging some sort of benefit from the event: –
- Phone up the organiser and ask for the attendee list before you get there. That way you can do some LinkedIn research and decide who you want to target before the event. About half the time they won’t cough up in which case turn up early and shamelessly examine all the badges displayed on the arrivals desk.
- Keep your target list for the event down to 5 people. Some of them will probably not show up but 5 is usually enough. Remember: focus = penetration and penetration = revenue.
- Have something small to connect with. A newsletter you publish, an upcoming seminar or round table or perhaps a white paper on something the average attendee will find interesting. Then when you engage with people don’t go for the big sell just the small connection – this is much more likely to result in getting some engagement from your targets.
- When taking business cards employ the “left and right” rule. Useless cards are placed in the left pocket and left in a waste bin before you leave whilst valuable ones are put in the right pocket and taken right home. Avoid giving your business card out unless it is to a valuable contact.
- Give more than you take and don’t think about what you will get in return. Real Networkers are obsessive givers so give, give, give before you take. Information, contacts, expertise and knowledge all count and should be passed on without hesitation. If this makes you feel uncomfortable you are probably going to struggle to get anything of any value from networking.
So there you have it: research up front; get focused; offer something small and easy; be selective and give more than you take. Simples innit?