Does the mere thought of attending a networking event make you cringe? Whether you’re an introvert or extremely outgoing, the idea of networking can bring a sense of dread. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s all about your approach. Instead of focusing on having to be on point and having to impress people, focus on the benefits networking brings to your business.
In order to grow your startup, you need connections. Connections aren’t only great for spreading the ‘good word’ about your business. Connections can bring inspiration, innovation and partnerships that may catapult your business to places you only dreamed of. They’re also invaluable when it comes to needing quick advice or information on a project you’re working on. In short, connections are the fuel that feeds your business and the best way to gain suitable ones is by attending a networking event. Knowing this, your approach needs to be one that effectively accomplishes this. Here are some tips:
Photo Credits: New York Television Festival‘s Flickr
Know Your Purpose
Knowing your purpose helps you stay focused. Set in mind what you want to accomplish. For example, set a goal to personally connect and exchange contact information with a certain amount of people. Next, make an agreement that you’ll contact them after the event on a given date. You can also set a goal for how many leads you’d like to attain and do the same.
When you’re doing this, keep your business in mind. Are you currently developing a product that incorporates the use of artificial intelligence, but are struggling with the coding aspect? Set a goal to meet someone who excels at coding. Are you looking for press coverage for your startup? Set out to connect with professionals who benefit your business or whom you can help with their business. This way, you’re being productive and not wandering around talking to whomever you randomly come across. While this is nice to do for a social event, it’s not beneficial to do at a business event.
Your Outfit Speaks Volumes!
At every networking event you’ll likely come across entrepreneurs who are in jeans or dressed less than professionally and make no apologies for it. This is about growing your business and connecting with those that can make that happen. Try to go for dressing professional with a balance. You want something that makes a profound statement, but in a subtle manner.
There is nothing more eye-catching than having an outfit in a neutral or understated color that dramatically compliments your skin tone, hair and eye color as well as your body type. Don’t ever underestimate the power of color coordinating with your physical characteristics. Doing so enables you to stand out and grab attention while demonstrating class and professionalism. In addition, this makes you approachable.
The Ultimate Business Card Method
Handing business cards out at a networking event is a no-brainer. However, there’s an effective method that might leave a more lasting impression, ensuring the recipient will remember you. First, make sure you carry them so that they don’t get smudged or bent and have them on hand during the entire event. If your conversations get interrupted you can quickly pull them out and leave them. Always hand out at least three to one person, so they can share with someone else.
However, on the first card, take a few extra seconds. Before handing them over, write the name of the person you are talking to on the top card. This way, when they pull that card out later on, their memory of your conversation with them will be triggered easily. It’s a very simple, valuable trick that works very well.
Rehearse Before the Networking Event!
Although it may sound odd, it really is beneficial to rehearse your body language and facial expressions in the mirror. No, this isn’t narcissistic. This is wise business sense. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so rehearsing is vital. In addition, just as successful content marketers implement psychological triggers and power words in their content, it’s also highly effective to use them in your introductions:
“I’m a developer.”
“I develop products that trigger the subconscious to hyperfocus on crucial projects and academic material.”
Do you see the difference? How many developers are they going to meet? How many mind experts are they going to meet? REHEARSE!
Always, Always, Always Listen First!
The genius behind this strategy lies within the subconscious of the other person. It’s only natural, when you’re doing business, to want to rehearse what you’re going to say, so that you ensure it will have a favorable impact. If the person with whom you’re meeting doesn’t speak first, they very well could be only half-listening to you while their subconscious is rehearsing what they’re going to say in turn. Everyone does this. The solution is to ask questions about them first. Prepare some beforehand, preferably questions you can ask anyone:
- What led you to that particular industry?
- What’s the primary contribution of your company?
- Do you see it as a permanent career choice?
- What projects are you currently working on?
By asking these questions you’re showing genuine interest in them and allowing their subconscious to get rid of distracting thoughts. It also gives you tips on what points to make when you speak. Listen for small clues as to what they need that your knowledge and/or products can supply. Also, find ways of subtly informing them of your skills when you speak.
The 2-3 Sentence Lasting Impression
This is another reason why you need to really rehearse the words you’re going to use so that you can quickly make a memorable impression. If you ramble on, they’ll quickly lose interest. At the same time, try to avoid using trendy buzzwords that are heard so much their meaning has been diluted. Remember your power words and weave them in effectively. Most importantly, try to make your 2-3 sentences relate as directly as possible to their background or business. In order to connect, they must be able to relate to you.
Having these tips sets you up just in time for the Techsylvania Conference in Cluj-Napoca, the European Youth Capital of 2015. Its speakers include the most successful and innovative minds in the industry who will share their methods, their mistakes and their invaluable insights with you over the course of several days. In addition, they’re holding their annual hackathon in conjunction with the event which will give you the rare opportunity to develop a product with a team of other entrepreneurs in a 24 hour period. There’s no better time or place than this to practice your approach on how to benefit from a networking event. Your ticket is just a click away, but don’t wait too much because June is just around the corner!