Even though we’ve become much more casual as a society, there are still remains many unspoken rules when it comes to networking. So when you go to your next event, be sure to follow these 8 rules.
1. Be Present
It’s important to work the room and interact with those around you. Keep your phone in your pocket (unless you’re setting a meeting with the person you just met). If you have to take a call, excuse yourself and leave the room. Keep eating and drinking to a minimum—talking with your mouth full isn’t a good look. Plus, it’s called networking, not net-eating.
2.Get up, Stand up
State your name slowly, loudly, and clearly. Try to give your audience an intriguing piece of information about yourself. This will help them to remember you. If given the opportunity to state your 60-second commercial, be sure to stand up.
If you’re casually conversing at a table, present yourself in a strong and secure manner. Having good posture and an assertive tone makes a great first impression. Don’t forget that making eye contact, smiling, and delivering a firm handshake has a positive effect on the dynamic of the conversation.
3. Listen 70% – Talk 30%
As people talk, you begin to think of ways to pitch them or turn the story back on yourself. Don’t let your inner voice ruin you. Let people talk and allow them to finish their thoughts so that you may have a turn to deliver something relevant to the topic of conversation. Less is more when it comes to one on one conversations at networking events. And remember, never try and sell at a networking event! It just doesn’t work.
4. Be Brief
Be mindful of people’s time. When you’re networking, the point is to work the room and meet a few people. Your initial communications should be brief and to the point, that way you’ll have time to talk to just about everyone. Always remember to be polite.
5. Ask for Cards
Do not hand your business cards out at random. It’s tacky and pushy. If someone wants your card, they’ll ask for it. If you’re having a conversation with someone you’d like to keep in contact with, simply ask for their card. They’ll give it to you, and chances are they’ll ask for yours in return.
6. Be Specific
The more specific you are when asking for referrals the better. For example, “A good lead for me is a small business in the local community” is too broad and won’t get people thinking. If you ask to meet the owner of a local daycare with no more than 10 employees, you’ll have a better chance of someone helping you make that connection.
As stated earlier, the business society is becoming more casual. You may hear more swearing in networking events than in years past. This doesn’t mean you need to start. You never know who you’ll offend with your language. Chances are they won’t even tell you they were offended; they just won’t do business with you. Leave the F-bombs at home.
8. Stay in Touch
Sending hand-written thank you cards to people you had a real connection with goes a long way. An added touch would be a note that mentions something they’re interested in. For example, “I remember you telling me you were planning you daughter’s graduation party. I hope it was a success!”
If you email them, you might want to include a relevant link that they would find helpful. For example, if someone wanted to get their child into tennis lessons, you might send a link on how to choose the best tennis instructor. Whichever method of following-up you choose, make sure to do so within two days.
By following these 8 rules, you’re sure to do great at your next event. Happy networking!