by Alice Heiman
“It’s who you know.” People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Building these bonds generates business and keeps you on the forefront of your industry. It takes time, but it is critical. One of the most effective ways to build these bonds is to attend networking events.
Attending is just the start. How you interact and conduct yourself is crucial if these are to be successful ventures for you. If you’ve been to these events, you know that some people have an approach that is more successful than others. We are drawn to some people and repelled by others. Let’s have some fun finding out how to network successfully. Which type of networker are you?
The Wallflowers: These are the quiet and shy people who tend to show up, stay in one place the entire time, and not interact with anyone new. They wait to be approached. While they are polite, because they aren’t outgoing, they will leave with no new connections or acquaintances. If you are a wallflower, take an extrovert with you to your networking event so that he or she can introduce you to people. If you don’t know one, call the organization conducting the event. Ask if you can arrange for someone to meet you and take you around to meet people. There is no shame in that!
The Clingers: These people are a bit more “out of the shell” than wallflowers, but they’re comfortable only with people they know. While friendly, they tend to stay in the same circle and leave networking events having only caught up with their friends. If this sounds familiar, set a small goal of meeting two or three new people at the event, and ask your friends to make these introductions. You can still hang out with your usual pals and benefit from the new connections you make. If you’re having trouble meeting the goal, have some fun and ask your friends if they want to split up and each bring back one person for everyone to meet.
The “Pushers”: These are the ones everyone is trying to avoid. Pushers show up to networking events intending to tell everyone about what they sell and close the deal on the spot. They pitch at every moment and hand out more business cards than they can count. To those who do this: STOP. It’s annoying and won’t get you anywhere. Instead, relax. Stop selling. Make friends and build relationships. Ask questions and listen. While you are doing this, people will ask you what you do, and you can briefly tell them in a way that is engaging and makes them want to know more. If they do, you can make arrangements to meet after the event and continue the conversation.
The Listeners: Talkers love this type. Listeners are afraid to talk about themselves because they don’t know what to say, so instead they stay focused on the other person. It’s nice to listen to others and learn about them, but they want to learn about you, too. Relationships require give and take, but if you only listen, then how do you have a mutually beneficial relationship? If you’re a listener, the best thing to do before attending a networking event is to prepare. Think about the type of people you may meet and what you will have in common with them. Practice how you’ll answer the question “What do you do?” Make your response engaging so that people want to know more. Have a story or two ready so that those you meet will be able to relate to you, and be prepared to participate in the ensuing conversation so that it doesn’t turn into an interview.
The Jesters: The jesters are the life of the party! If this is you, then you already know how fun you are. This person warms up a room and is always surrounded by a crowd. Attracting others is easy, but making a lasting connection may be harder when you are the entertainer. Here’s the key: remember that it’s still business. They may remember you, but will they know what you do or who they can refer to you? The goal of networking is to build relationships that lead to results. Try having a few smaller, intimate conversations. Make a lasting impression that will benefit your business.
Recognizing what type of networker you are is the first step. Then decide what type of networker you will be to get the best results. Try the “new” networking you at the next event you attend.
Join Alice Heiman as she emcees the Sales 2.0 Conference in Las Vegas as chief networking officer. To attend, register at https://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1488784.