An invite arrives in your inbox describing a “big” after hours event at your local restaurant or country club. It states how they are expecting a record attendance. So you spend the $40 on the registration fee and arrive at the event with high hopes of landing your next big client. But soon you realize that networking is the last thing taking place. People are either spending their time with those they already know, buzzing around the buffet paying more attention to the food than the guests in attendance, or standing shyly in the corner hoping no one notices them. And those who do approach you are so focused on selling you on their company that you can’t get a word in edgewise.
Finally, feeling deflated as your time and money have been wasted, you give up and leave. The chance of finding a new client at this event seems to be as likely as finding a unicorn. Thankfully, the night ends.
Sound familiar? While this scenario is common, it doesn’t have to be like that for you. When you know how to work a room, you can network at any event and make meaningful connections with others that lead to more business. Here are the 5 Be’s to Effective Networking. Use these at your next networking event and you’ll be a master networker who closes business over and over again.
Be Willing – You must be willing to give in order to receive. Therefore, rather than focus on finding connection for yourself, make it a goal to find connections for the people you meet and your clients. For example, if you meet a financial planner and later you meet someone who says they are looking to be connected to financial planners, make it a point to introduce them to each other. This takes the pressure off you and makes you look like the hero to others. This approach also makes conversations go a lot more smoothly, ultimately prompting people to find out what you do.
Be Moving – Think of the networking space like a baseball diamond. When you arrive, the door acts as home plate. However, rather than make your way to first base, turn to the left and walk toward third. Why? Most people are right handed so they will have a tendency to enter the room and move to the right. If you follow them, you’ll be lost in the crowd. But if you go opposite, from third base, to second, to first, you’ll approach them in a casual way, which leads to more natural conversations. In the process, seek out wall huggers or spaces where there are less people so you can make some one-to-one introductions.
Be Approachable – Being approachable means that you are not sitting by yourself with a scowl, talking poorly about others or the event, eating and drinking to get your money’s worth, or hanging out with a friends or co-workers. Networking is about introducing yourself to people you don’t know. In a friendly manner, extend your hand like you are meeting your best friend. Relationships are built with a warm and approachable demeanor.
Be a Realistic in the Outcome – The goal of networking is to make connections, not to make a sale that evening. Therefore, go in with the realization that no one is going to come up to you and say, “Sign me up. Here is my credit card.” Rather than striving to land a deal, have a goal to land an opportunity to connect again. To make sure this occurs, ask everyone you meet lots of questions about what they do, what their business needs are, and any other questions to determine if it makes sense to follow up for a meeting.
Be Prepared – To make networking work, you need to be prepared. You have to look the part by dressing correctly. Know your calendar for available times and dates you could meet. Have business cards on hand and be prepared to set appointments and to make connections.
Lesson Here - By having the right mindset and going into a networking event with the right intent, your chances of meeting your next big client will greatly increase. In fact, you may even have someone come up to you and say, “Wow, you are an amazing connector. I am not sure what you do but I really need to get to know you.” This will be a clear sign that you have been practicing the 5 Be’s of Networking.