So, over the years I’ve put together a little routine that works for me – and I’m egotistical enough to share it with you.
First, I dress appropriately for the event. No one ever begrudged someone for being slightly over dressed. But being underdressed is a no-no. Trust me. You only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression.
Second, I load up on business cards, but give very few of them out. Why? Because I never give out a card until I’m asked for it. This way there is a pretty good chance the person is interested in what I do.
Third, on the drive over I recite my “elevator speech”. Again, I never use it. Why? Because I want to hear the other person tell me about what they do. I want to learn so much about them when they ask what I do, I’ve already tailored my answer to address their needs. (Reciting my elevator speech to myself helped me keep my USP in the forefront of my mind.)
Fourth, if there is someone in the room I really want to meet, I’ll find someone who knows me and knows that person and get them to introduce us. That way it’s more of a friend to friend meeting. Now we can chat about a host of things while we see if we click.
Fifth, when I get back to my office I take the business cards I asked for and enter them into my database. Then I immediately send each person a personal email. I offer to be available to them, offer to assist them in meeting others as well as offering my assitance with their own communication needs.
Networking does bring in business in the long run and I know it’s a numbers game. So I mark the next networker in my calendar, and make sure to follow my plan.
But, oh, how I hate networking.