Networking do’s and don’t’s
Seems the harder and smarter I work the luckier I get
Networking at events has most definitely become part of the business landscape for entrepreneurs and business owners. Employees are also expected to meet and greet at functions to find new business. Ten years ago when I was an employee it was the telephone and cold calling once a week on an office day that got our appointments, now however, cold calling has gotten harder and harder, so more and more people are venturing out to early morning breakfast meetings, luncheons and becoming alcoholics at evening events where wine and beer and dodgy finger food are the order of the day or the night.
But like anything there’s a right way and a wrong way to do networking, the wrong way will frustrate and waste your most valuable asset of time and put you off forever. So after networking for ten years in UK and here where I live in Bangkok Thailand I will give you what works for me and what doesn’t work for most.
Consistency is the key
it’s most definitely a long term project and the analytical amongst us will only see benefits emerging if you average it out over a number of events, for example I went for a good few weeks and only met other web designers and Independent Financial advisors, then at one event I met two people whom I made appointments with over the next few days and made my quarterly quota in just two days!
Don’t stick with friends
Difficult if you arrived with a colleague, you may find yourself not doing much networking as it is actually an uncomfortable thing to meet new people for the first time, even extroverted people will tell you it does not come naturally and it is learned. So I see many sticking within their comfort group. And if you stick with friends it makes it difficult for others to come over and invade such a cosy clique!
If you are smart though, and you are all determined to meet new people, you can shuffle around the room as a pair and introduce each other.
Don’t drink too much
Evening events are usually in Hotels, and it’s the Hotel that is in the spotlight and they want to make you relaxed enough to enjoyed the surroundings, so what better than to pour wine and beer down your neck, If you are like me, a couple of glasses of wine plays havoc with my sleep patterns and wipes me out for the next day almost. Not to mention your state of sobriety if you are not a hardened drinker makes a first impression, so watch the intake! You could actually be doing yourself untold harm if you are regularly attending evening events.
Watch for the burn out
Quite easy to say to yourself you will attend so many events, yet more than three events in a week can take its toll on an average person to add on top of what you already do, so consider how many events you can manage and it not affect your other main activities and work ethic. Three events is an average 15 hours extra on your week!
Don’t get caught out with the speakers
A lot of events have speakers, don’t ignore the subject and go purely for the networking, some events are very strict about attention to the speaker and you could find yourself bored stiff sitting listening to a two hour speech on Chairman Mao’s revolution, when really you just wanted a couple of business cards and meet a few people and get home in time to see the kids to bed!
The follow up
Last and most important is the follow up, the very reason why you go through the process of finding out about the event, scheduling it in your work week, traveling there spending 2-3 hours of your time and then traveling home, which is a good five hours on average that is devoted to a decent event.
Following up on the cards you received is vital and all you will be doing, if you do not follow up correctly, is making yourself tired and unsuccessful at networking and maybe even ill in the process.
Invite all the people you want to keep in touch with, to Linkedin. I have been doing this for many years and as a Social media marketing consultancy in Thailand it’s made such a positive difference to my business I cannot tell you, then email all the people and very gently remind them what it is you do again, do not give them your life story, CV, or lengthy company profile, even if it is just an attachment, just one line to remind them what you do and to say you hope to bump into them again at the next event.
Networking like social media is branding and you have to be patient, it’s people getting to know people, and just being around when people need you. You may get very lucky and find a massive customer at your first ever event and never go again, but that’s another blog about averages.
To find out where the best networking events are in your area contact Netmedia