Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app
Are you tired of networking events that are a complete waste of time? Are you sick of always meeting the same people and the "wrong" people at events? Do you feel like you don't know what to do, who to talk to, or what to say when at a professional event? Well, here are a few steps you might take to help.
By the way, this is a Haiku presentation that I created as part of a talk I give on Professional Networking. It is also my first swing at a Haiku deck and I'd appreciate any feedback you can offer on how to make it more engaging, more helpful, or more relevant to you. If you think I've missed something, please let me know. Send me email. I'm Phil at Thinkhammer or press the email me button on my About Me Profile.
Nine Ways To Make Networking Work For You
PLAN TO CONNECTTHERE IS A WEB OF PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP YOUNetworking events can be scary and useless. It is too easy to come away from an event feeling like you've wasted your time and didn't meet any of the "right" people. If you follow a few rules, you can keep that from happening and turn any room into your advantage.
BE PREPAREDKNOW WHO IS GOING TO BE IN THE ROOMFor many events it is possible to know who is going to be in the room before you even get there. Get the list either from the event site or one of the organizers. If they don't share the list, then ask the organizers if they can give you some idea of who to expect so you can make a list of who you'd especially like to meet. At Tech After Five events (ta5.com) there is even an app that you can use to target contacts that would be especially useful for you.
HAVE A PLANMEET FIVE NEW PEOPLEHaving an activity goal is particularly useful at networking events. It will keep you moving forward and maybe even keep you from using all of your time talking to people you already know well. Sample goals might be "Meet Five New People" or "Collect two business cards from people I can have a follow up meeting with."
TALK TO STRANGERSTHEY ARE THE QUICKEST WAY TO ADD DIVERSITY TO YOUR NETWORKIt is too easy to spend all of our networking time with people we already know. Decide that you are going to add diversity to your network as well as rekindling conversations with existing contacts. New people bring fresh ideas and networks to you. Chances are, you will be able to help each other in ways you hadn't thought of.
ASK QUESTIONSWHEN YOU ARE LISTENING, YOU ARE LEARNINGWhen you are cool, or work for a cool company, or have a particularly awesome product or service, it is too easy to be talking when you should be listening. Ask questions. Learn about the people you meet, both old and new. When you ask the right questions, you learn from them. The more you know, the more likely you will be able to come up with ways to connect.
BE HELPFUL FIRSTIT IS ALWAYS A PLEASANT SURPRISEOnce you've started asking questions, be sure to ask how you can help others first. At many events the participants can be exhausted from hearing one pitch after another. Be different by offering help first. Perhaps they are looking for a particular company or person and you can be the one to help them make that connection. Start by offering help and then they will be wondering how they can help you.
WHAT'S YOUR STORY?BE PREPARED TO EXPLAIN WHO YOU HELP AND HOWDon't start with your pitch, but have it ready. When someone asks how they can help you, be sure you have a concise answer. Let them know specifically who, or what, or what situation you are looking to uncover and then ask them who you should be talking to. If they know, they will help. If you can't articulate what or who you need they probably won't know where to start.
COLLECT BUSINESS CARDSIT PUTS YOU IN CONTROL OF FOLLOW UPHand out business cards to anyone who asks for one, but more importantly ask for a business card from anyone who you think you'd like to follow up with. Carry a notepad and pen for those people who didn't bring a card. You want to be able to take the next step in terms of follow up. You need contact information to make that happen.
FOLLOW UP QUICKLYMAKE A CALL, DROP A LINE, DO SOMETHINGTry to follow up while the conversation is still fresh. Best practices means you send a note that evening or the following morning. I know it's hard, but if you are going to go to the trouble of making contacts, then set aside time to do proper follow up. If you follow these steps you are going to absolutely distinguish yourself as a professional networker and undoubtedly be awesome at whatever else you are trying to do as well.