The last time I wrote about networking, I provided some tips on how to prepare for your upcoming event. Now it’s time to talk about how you can maximize your networking while at the event.
First of all, to be effective, you have to be in the right mindset. Try to remember that everyone is there for the same purpose — to meet other business professionals.
Stay away from what is comfortable. It’s easy to sit with someone you know. That’s not why you’re there; you’re there to meet new people. Find a table with no one you know and go sit with them.
The name “elevator pitch” comes from the idea that it should be possible to deliver a summary of your product or service in the time span of an elevator ride. A typical elevator ride lasts 30 seconds to two minutes. Your elevator pitch should be designed to create value or interest in the short time that you have.
The best elevator pitches are rehearsed prior to the networking event. Say what you do but do it in an interesting manner.
For example, if someone asks what you do, don’t tell him or her your job title. If you do, the conversation may end right there. Tell him or her what you do and why you love it. Don’t use industry-specific terminology that your listener may not understand.
This approach will engage the listener and will most likely lead to an exchange of business cards.
Each networking group has one — the person that seems to know everyone.
Find that person as soon as you get there and introduce yourself. People love to help. When the mayor finds out that you are new, he or she will immediately start introducing you to other members.
The follow up
Networking is a waste of your time if there is no follow-up. I’ve always been impressed when I am driving home from an event and I receive an email from someone that I just met.
The email is non-aggressive and simply says that it was a pleasure to meet. In my opinion, this approach is perfect.
You have to find what you are comfortable with but don’t wait too long. If you let more than 48 hours pass prior to your first communication, you just wasted your time and money at the event.
Remember that everyone at the networking event is there to network. You want to be the one they remember, not the one they forget. The way to achieve this is to have a follow-up strategy and to implement it in a timely manner.
Bill Gates once said, “If I would be given a chance to start all over again, I would choose network marketing.” If done right, network marketing can be the least expensive and most effective form of marketing. Every day you spend building your network you inch yourself closer to a better tomorrow.
Dennis W. Lejeck is the president and founder of the Black Knight Security. Dennis is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence and has also participated in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® program.