Do you find networking events to be painful and unproductive? That outlook may be a symptom of poor networking skills, and more importantly, a misaligned networking perspective. According to a recent article on Entrepreneur.com, 3 Ways to Give More and Be Proactive at a Networking Event, two of the factors that drive benefit from any networking event are having the right perspective and diligent follow up. Consider these tips to get the most out of networking events and ultimately support your own sales success:
- Don't make it about the sale. If we arrive at a networking event looking to sell something, we are doomed to fail. There simply isn't enough time at a single event to close a sale (unless we are selling wine by the glass). Instead, we should enter a networking event with the goal of simply connecting with individuals (expanding our network), the infancy of a relationship, and looking for opportunities to help others.
The Entrepreneur article cites Mark Sackett, speaker and founder of the networking organization The Art of Active Networking. "Don't always make it about the sell," says Sackett. "We are well trained in the sell but not in the listening and giving‚ instead of trying to sell yourself or your business, work on building relationships." Sackett suggests asking these four questions:
- What is your name?
- What do you do for a living, or what do you want to be doing?
- Why are you here tonight?
- What is it in life that you are most passionate about?
Our goal should be to figure out how we can help the people we meet, because helping them do better now is how we build the trust, credibility and rapport essential to a productive business relationship.
- Follow up and follow through. As we connect with people and look for opportunities to help them, offers and promises will be made. It's essential to follow through on every point. If I say I am going to shoot someone an email or forward a contact name, and then fail to do so, I am demonstrating that when I say something, I don't really mean it; or that I'm irresponsible and can't keep track of my own tasks. None of these attributes support our business development efforts!
Engage these practices at your next networking event. As we become more purposeful and accomplished in our networking skills, we will have less fear and loathing related to our networking efforts!