How to be PhatNetworking is an art. You have to go into each event prepared to show your personality, tell your story, and talk about your business. Then, when the event is over, follow-up is key to starting relationships with new contacts.
Have Your Elevator Speech Ready to Roll
During most events you will be given about 60 seconds to stand-up in front of the room and advertise your business. This should be a well prepared but flexible speech. Highlight your expertise, explain exactly what you do and what value you offer to your ideal client. Show your personality and what is amazing about you. You can read and see my elevator speech by clicking here.
Bring business cards
Every small business owner should have a card. Keep them simple. Be ruthless about collecting cards as they are they key to following-up after an event (see below for follow-up). If you see my adorable purple business card case out, get your card out. I want to hear about what you do, share my story, and exchange information so we can connect later on.
Work the room
If you have met me you know I have the gift of gab (and if you haven't met me, call me up, let's do lunch!). However, what most people don't know is the thought of walking into a room full of strangers did terrify me, until I have had so many great experiences I got over the fear. Remember, other attendees are there to network as well so break into conversations and start talking.
Always ask a question
If your event has a speaker be the first to raise your hand and ask a question. Every speaker will tell you that those who are the first ones out of the box with questions show initiative. You make a connection with the speaker, show your spunk and initiative, and usually get some great information. Once the Q&A is finished you have a natural entrance to introduce yourself to the speaker and thank them for their help. Others in attendance are more likely to approach you about your question because you seem approachable.
You attend networking events to build relationships. The face-to-face is important and so is the follow-up. Here is my system. I send each person an email which includes a personal message about a conversation we had and a link to join my newsletter. I also send each person an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
How not to get FAT
If you network as much as me, you will be surrounded by fattening high caloric food. I attend 3-4 events per week. Sometimes the organizers set-up the event and you order off of a restaurant menu, other events have a buffet. Whatever the format, eating out that much can be a problem for your waistline.
Also, food can sometimes get in the way of your mission which is to talk to people. You spill, slurp, or something gets stuck in your teeth and that can all be...well...gross.
Yes, it seems like a waist (hahaha!) of money - you pay $10 for a breakfast event and do not eat the meal. But really the food is so bad for you it isn't worth it. Make sure to have a filling and healthy meal at home.
Go for small and healthy bite...and the coffee
If you order off a menu just get something small. Food is usually served during the speaker and it will give you something to do. If the buffet does not include any great options just opt for something to drink. I can drink $10 worth of coffee in a New York minute...always get my money's worth just from the java.
Stick to a regular exercise plan
Sometimes you will be stuck and have to eat out. That's ok. I have a regular plan to get to the gym at least three times a week for some cardio. Then, throughout each day I take short breaks to do squats, dips, and other toning exercises. In my business binder I have a section where I put magazine clippings of great exercises to try if I need some variety.
I have walked out of networking events with clients ready to sign, invitations to speak at events, and unfortunately, too many trans fats in my system. Using these simple tips and tricks I have transformed my networking plan from one of stress and fat to great opportunities. If you are stuck and need help with your plan, let me know. I am happy to help you get started.