THE ART OF EFFECTIVE NETWORKING (PART 2)
1. Provide - Often when people network, they strictly focus on what they can get for themselves. Most people can see right through this and will not engage. You should first focus on the value that you bring or how you can mutually help one another. If the event is industry related, it might be easier to just say what exactly it is that you're looking for. After all, you probably paid dues or paid for the event you are attending. However, if it's an after-work networking event, you might want to let people know the value that you can bring to them first.
2. Have your pitch ready - Prepare a quick blurb about what you do. Are you an aerospace engineer? That’s great, but most people don’t know exactly what you do. Find a way to describe it on a macro-level that is digestible. Your “pitch” should provide key information that you want people to know about you. If you do several things, you should focus on the most relevant one or two things first. As the conversion goes on you can talk about other things that you do. If you lead with too many things upfront, you might seem all over the place. People will have a hard time figuring out who they can connect you with or how they can help you.
3. Invest - Build a relationship first! You cannot meet someone one or two times and expect the person to help you automatically, let alone remember your name. Don't get me wrong, there are people that are like that, but sometimes people have to get to know you a little bit more. After someone gets to know you, they may approach you and say "I know about this opportunity and I think it would be great for you." But when you approach people and only think about what's in it for you, it won't work. Think about it this way, it can take years to build a great relationship, so people have a right to be protective. Do you invite everyone that you meet to your home? Probably not, because you don't know them well enough. But after you get to know them and feel comfortable, at some point you will.
4. Follow up - This is the most important thing to do. Now you have gone through the effort of meeting someone new. Did you send a follow-up email? Did you connect on LinkedIn? Don't just collect business cards at these events. Follow up with an email and maybe even include some things that you talked about. This is a great time to set up more one on one time for coffee, lunch or a follow up call. If you really want to connect with someone and they don't respond the first time, don't fret. They might be really busy, give it about a week or so and follow up again.
5. Have fun - Networking can be hit or miss. The purpose is truly to be open and meet people organically. When you force it, you won't be able to build upon a genuine relationship.
Go out, have a drink and enjoy it!