Vacation time is over, it’s back to business for all! And here we go again for the traditional networking cocktails.
OMG! … I hear you: “It’s not that easy Julie… How do I enter a room full of strangers? What about introducing myself to a group? And the chit-chat; about what? Plus, how do I leave? And, when do I offer my card, or should I not?”
Freshen up your cup of coffee or tea, and read on. Like any successful activity, a networking activity also necessitates prepping. Here are my 12 best tips for successful networking.
1) You are not there to sell, but rather to serve or connect.
Instead of selling yourself, think of how you can help others in the success of their projects and in solving their problems. Adopt an attitude of service. Find out about his mission, his ideal clients, what he is missing and what he needs. Be empathetic and caring. If there is no match between his needs and your offerings, think of your network and how you could match him with one of your connections. Make a match that will be beneficial to both parties.
2) Raise your hand to volunteer.
Give your name as host or for any other task that will highlight your talents. You will then heighten your profile within the network’s executive committee and you will have privileged contacts with the guests of honour and speakers. Participants will come to you for help.
3) Do your homework.
Find out about the organization, the association, the host company, its’ members and the guest of honour. You can also find out the list of attendees. Make a list of those you think you can help, and whom you would like to meet. Search the web to seek their recent achievements and upcoming projects. This information will serve you to begin conversations.
4) Even if the activity is in a bar, do not dress up to stay up late (expression from my maternal grandmother Florina).
Your outfit should reflect the occasion “business networking” and especially your profession. Remember, we dress for …? Our client. You must look like what you can do for others. You have to look the part to broadcast confidence and credibility.
5) Eat a snack before.
Contrary to popular belief, you are not invited to a networking activity for free shrimps and drinks. You are there to network, not to not work and fill up on free fuel.
6) Walk-in, ask, and join a group.
Do not go straight to the bar, to snack on veggies. Take the time to enter. Go through the door with confidence and a positive attitude. Walk in. Smile. Hands should be by your side. Make a small step to the right. Stop! Madonna says “Vogue,” Julie says, “Pose.” Take a moment. Breathe. Browse the room; who is here, who can see me?
It’s well known. Everyone looks at the door to see who’s coming in. It is not about being arrogant, but simply about being present and noticed. During this short moment, you are looking for a group of three to five people, who seem relaxed and open to others joining in. Step forward.
“Hi, may I join you?”
No group in sight? Stroll in, walk on by, in search of an inviting visual contact from another person who, like you, is looking to connect.
Another option is to wait by the door for the arrival of the next guest and to then introduce yourself.
Waiting in line will also allow you to meet two people; one in front of you and another behind you.
7) Hold your drink in your left hand.
Thus, your right hand will always be dry and ready to shake a hand or to offer a professional card, by avoiding being wet from the external condensation of your glass.
8) Introduce yourself and position yourself as well.
“Hello, your first name, your last name, your title, the name of the company you represent and add a bit of information related to the activity or the host.”
9) The small talk; a necessary preliminary.
Prepare open questions. As mentioned in number 1), find out about other attendees.
“What do you do when you’re not working?” Always illuminates the other’s face. You will then be conversing about favourite hobbies and favourite people.
To the traditional “How are you?” Answer with a phrase that will make you shine. Be your own agent.
“I am very well thank you. I just – add a recent success. ”
10) Leave gracefully.
Remember the mission of this cocktail; you are there to network. In general, networkers meet three to five new people per activity. Leaving is easier than you think. Just politely wait for a break.
“It was nice to meet you, good luck with your project.”
Hold out your hand and make your way to the next person.
If you think you can do business together, offer to meet at a later date to discuss more seriously and offer your business card. Never ask the other’s card. By offering, you give him the choice to reciprocate or not.
When leaving, thank the organizers. Inform those with whom you arrived with of your departure. For more formal or particularly successful activities, the handwritten thank you note is always gracious and appreciated.
12) Follow up.
Back at the office, sort your new collection of business cards. Send personalized e-mails to: offer help, introduce a contact, give an answer, connect on LinkedIn, send an article, invite to another activity or to do lunch. Fulfill all the promises you made.
One, two, three, go, network to increase your net worth!