Having just attended a very successful women’s conference in Waterford, where there was lots of networking, I’m taking a different tack with this week’s blog. I’ve discussed the subject of networking before, http://bit.ly/bqefQW, but this week’s post will actually show you some networking don’ts. Follow these tips to make the most out of networking events.
This is a collaborative effort. Some tips are my own and some come from contributors to the forum at http://www.irishbusinesswomen.com
- Don’t stand in the corner of the room by yourself. The reality is, people will not come up to you. I know it’s a scary prospect, but people won’t bite. After all, they want to meet you too. The coffee counter is a good place to start. Begin by talking about your need for a caffeine fix and take it from there.
- Don’t ignore the loner. People don’t tend to go over to the person standing by themselves, but we’ve all been there. Make them feel welcome. They could be your next customer.
- Don’t spend all your time with people you know. It’s tempting to use them as a security blanket, but you’re there to meet new people. Instead, use the people you know as a launch pad. Start a conversation with the people they’re talking to and then you’ll have the confidence to take off around the room.
- Don’t rubberneck. It’s very offputting when you can see that the person you’re talking to is swivelling their head to see who else is there. If you want to talk to someone else, find a polite excuse to leave: ‘I just want to get some more coffee. ‘ ‘I’m just going to catch up with x over there.’
- Don’t be afraid to help people. You may end up talking to someone who you know won’t do business with you. How can you make the encounter work? By offering them advice. They’ll see you as a trustworthy expert and will recommend you to their contacts.
- Don’t let your business cards get dog-eared. Get one of those slick little plastic cases for your cards, so you can hand people a pristine card that will spread the message of your business more effectively.
- Don’t forgot to follow-up. You’ll be ahead of the pack if you send out an email next day. Most networkers don’t do this, but the follow-up is the best way to maximise the meeting. A short note making reference to your conversation is enough. If you’ve had a particularly fruitful conversation, arrange to meet for a coffee.
If you obey these don’ts, you’ll be on your way to conquering the networking jungle.