Posted on February 20, 2020
How to Make the Most of Your Networking Event
By Jocelin Parkin , Events Coordinator, Southtowns Regional Chamber of Commerce
February 20, 2020
We’ve all heard the saying, “People do business with people they know, like, and trust”. But how exactly do you accomplish that? In a world that so much of business is done online, it can be tricky to establish a genuine connection and build the “like” and “trust” factors. Networking is a great solution to this problem.
We’ve all been to a networking event before, whether it’s for personal or business gain. So, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your networking experience and leverage the contacts you make.
- Walk in confident and be authentic. I want to take a moment and focus on that second word here, authentic. People can smell fakeness a mile away, and if you show up trying to be someone you’re not people will pick up on it in a second. No one wants to sit and talk with someone they feel is schmoozing them, yet alone do business with them. So, take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself. Remember you are the thing that sets your business apart from the competition and makes it unique. No one else has your story or unique perspective, so let your light shine and be genuine and honest with people. You’ll be amazing at the response you receive. Confidence is another key quality to remember. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, other people won’t have confidence in you or your business! If confidence isn’t one of your strongest qualities, the good news is you can work on growing it. Try giving your elevator pitch while looking in the mirror. It may sound a bit silly, but it works.
- Keep an Open Mind and Work the Room. It happens all too often; we see someone we know, and we sit down or stand next to them for the entire event. While it’s nice to recognize a familiar face at a networking event, this is not a strategic way to build your professional network. Challenge yourself to talk to at least 3 new people each time. Approaching a new face and having a quality conversation with them not only builds your professional network but establishes that “like” and “trust” factor. People always appreciate a friendly face approaching them and making them feel comfortable is a great way to start that connection. So read the room and reach out to someone who may seem a bit uncomfortable reaching out. Also, keep an open mind while you’re working the room. Everyone there may not need what you have to offer at that moment, but you never know the connections they have or if you will be able to help them down the road. There is generally at least one person in the room that you can help, but if you are in a closed-minded mindset you will not see them. Every time I go to a networking event, I think to myself before I go in that there is at least one person there I can help, and you know what, there is usually more than one. When you go in with a closed-minded mindset you miss out on future opportunities and potential contacts.
- Follow Up with Contacts After the Event. This is such an important step and is often overlooked. Once you’ve established a contact that you can help, it’s critical to follow up with them after the event. Whether it’s an email, phone call, or setting an appointment to stop in and see them, it’s imperative to make that connection within a couple of days. You’ll be fresh on their mind and they will feel like a priority, and it seems like an authentic connection. DO NOT wait till the next networking event to follow up with them, by that time their mind has moved on, they feel like an afterthought, or even worse, they found someone else to help them. Making that connection immediately afterwards also shows that you care and are serious about helping them.
Hopefully these tips help you up your networking game, and help you leverage any new contacts that you make. When all else fails remember, just be yourself the rest will follow. I wish you the best in all your networking endeavors and can’t wait to see you at our next event!
P.S. If you’re looking for networking events to attend, be sure to check out our Events Calendar on our website, there are several to choose from.
The Southtowns Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit business member organization that focuses on helping its members achieve their goals, act as a resource, and help to foster economic growth in Western New York. For more information on this topic, contact Jocelin Parkin at [email protected] or visit our website at www.southtownsregionalchamber.org.