Some feel that networking is a waste of time….and really I have one comment for those people. You are doing it wrong!
Networking is not a time to get free drinks and food. Networking is not a time be the cool kid in school. Networking is not just showing up. Networking is not just joining a group.
The first step is to make the effort to go. Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone. You are networking to meet people! Don’t give yourself 10 excuses as to why you shouldn’t go. It’s always easier to tell yourself why you shouldn’t go, but guess what the people that decided an extra hour after work was worth it just increased their network. What did you do?
If you decide to go to a Networking event…..and you should decide to GO! Go prepared. Take business cards. Be ready to give that 30 second elevator speech on who you are and what you do. Don’t be scared to meet new people…chances are the people you meet are going to be relieved to have someone to speak with.
Be open to talk to everyone! Find out what others do in your industry and outside of your industry. When you least expect it the person that you would have never imagined to have a need for your services turns out to be the greatest contact you made all year. If people are at a networking event and they are treating it like a high school dance then chances are they probably won’t be someone that adds much value to your business. The same is true for you. Do not discount people or undervalue them as a contact. Find out what they do and listen to how they do it. Chances are you will learn something.
Networking is not a Frat Party. Well that seems like a basic concept, and you would think most people get this. Give yourself one too many drinks and then you might forget the purpose of networking. If you know that two drinks is all it takes for you to start rambling chances are you should have one drink and then stick to water. Yes, it’s an informal event and everyone is having fun….guess what it’s still better to have control.
Networking is not limited to after work events. Network with social media. Read blogs and comment on blogs. Reach out to business and personal acquaintances for breakfast, lunch and coffee. It’s great to have one on one conversations to see what your network is working on. Help promote each other. Join associations and get involved on committees. Just joining and sitting in the background is a start but really get involved. You will be surprised how much more it helps your business.
Practice networking. The more you network the easier it becomes. You feel less awkward walking up strangers and introducing yourself. You realize you have nothing to lose. Start going to events with people you know and have them introduce you to people and do the same for them. Eventually you won’t mind going by yourself.
Networking is a great tool when used effectively! Good luck and go meet some new people!