Personally I’m not a big fan of local networking events. I prefer to network online (I use LinkedIn for that) and then meet people one-on-one. But I realize that networking is still an important part of the client acquisition for most people, so below are 5 tips to become a better networker.
1. Practice your elevator speech
What do you say when people ask you ‘What do you do?’. You need to know this before you go networking. And it shouldn’t just be ‘I’m a coach’ or ‘I’m a consultant’ or ‘I’m a Business Strategist’. If you answer with 2 or 3 words, the focus of the conversation will quickly go back to the other person, and then you’ll be biting your lip out of frustration as they will go on and on about what they do and how they help people. You need to prepare your elevator pitch, explain what you do and who you’re helping – in an interesting way. If you need help creating a jaw-dropping self-intro check out this resource from my colleague Samantha Harley. She’s the best!
2. Do your prep work
As an introvert there’s nothing worse for me than go to a networking event without preparation. I like to know in advance what to expect, who will be there and who I absolutely want to talk to. If possible, I like to get access to a list of participants, look them up on LinkedIn and even connect with them, specifying in the invitation that I look forward to meeting them at the event. This gives me a nice reason to go up to them and introduce myself ‘Hi, I’m Sarah Santacroce. We connected on LinkedIn yesterday …’
3. Don’t see your prospects in front of you
This is a great tip that I owe to my colleague Rudolf Klaus, a networking specialist. He says: ‘Stop seeing prospects in front of you! Instead just see them as people who might know your prospects. It immediately takes the pressure of them if you say ‘Maybe you know someone who’s in this situation … ‘(describe the situation and how you can help people). They feel relieved because they realize you don’t want their money, you just want their contact’s money Winking smile.’ Listen to my interview with Rudolf Klaus here
4. Shut up and listen
Don’t you hate these people that just won’t stop talking about themselves and how great they are or how their service is indispensable for you. Well, everybody does! So don’t be that person! Instead focus on listening and offering your help. Eventually the other person will shut up and then it will be your turn to shine (see step 1).
Just as important as the prep-work is the follow-up. If you’re already connected send the people you’ve met a follow-up message (via LinkedIn or e-mail). Maybe you have promised them some information or resource during your chat? Don’t forget to keep your promise. Most people don’t so you will stand out! If you have met new professionals, send them a personalized invitation on LinkedIn (the video is from 2014 so a few things have changed since then, but it still might help to understand how to send a personalized invitation)
Which other networking strategies do you use?