Friday, May 9, 2014

3 Ways to Become a Smart, Savvy Networker: How to Thrive and Survive at a Networking Event!

How many of us receive invitations to attend networking events? At one point in time, we have all received invitations to attend various networking events to enhance our professional network and brand. I have a love/hate relationship with networking events. I feel that networking events can be a great tool for those who are serious about connecting with others. I have also been to networking events in which people are not networking but rather spend quality time on the phone, at the bar or remaining within their circle of friends. Don't let this be you!

Learn how to network like a Pro with the tips below on how to be a successful and effective networker!

Pre-Networking Tips:
Attire, hygiene and networking preparation are key to thriving at a networking event. Dress accordingly to the networking event. Check to see what type of networking event it is. Dress according to your style but always dress to impress. Don’t bathe in your cologne or perfume. Dabble a small amount of perfume/cologne on your pressure points on your body such as wrist, behind the ear and on neck. People are sensitive to scents and you don’t want to distract from making a meaningful connection. 

Don’t forget your business cards! Do you have enough business cards? If not, do you have time to print your business cards?  Make sure your business cards are prepared and professional. Do not use business cards with inaccurate, outdated or information crossed off. 

Prepare an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch should be short, sweet, and simple. You should introduce your business to potential clients. The elevator pitch is a 15 second to 1 minute story of your business designed to excite a prospective investor, partner, or employee. You should mention your business/company’s name, how you solve client’s problem, target audience, and services provide.  This should open up the conversation.

During Networking Event Tips:
Check your Attitude, make meaningful connections and have fun. You finally arrived at the event. Is your attitude in tact? If not, check your attitude at the door. You tend to wear your attitude on your face which can a make or break your effectiveness of networking and making meaningful connections.

Smile, make eye contact, be yourself and make meaningful connections. Don’t just stand in the middle of the room. Being anxious and nervous will occur if you are unsure of what to do while you are networking. Scan the room and look for someone who is mirroring you and make your way over there and build a relationship.  Introduce yourself, shake hands, actively listen (ask questions), be bold and let your personality shine. Mingle with a lot of people! Don’t just spend time with the person you came with. Breakout of your comfort zone.

If the networking event provides adult beverages, you should limit yourself to one drink if you can handle your drink. Know thy self! If you know that you can't handle the beverage, you should leave it alone. This also pertains to those who drink caffeinated and energy beverages for energy. Some people proclaim they need a drink in order to network. I guess some need the liquid courage. You should consider drinking the delicious beverage towards the end of the event.  

Post Networking Event Tips:
Following up is such a powerful tool. Don’t just collect business cards and let them collect dust. Follow up with the individual(s) within a 24 hour period after the networking event via telephone, email or snail mail. When you send an email, you want to thank the individual for their time, their patience and business card. Having an attitude of gratitude, establish rapport and open doors for further opportunities. Ask the individual out to have brunch, lunch or coffee and connect with them further.

Remember networking is an art! The more you network, the more you will develop into a smart, savvy networker.

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