Getting swooped up in networking hype is all too easy, but the thrill of listening to elite speakers, attending extravagant parties and meeting the wealthier participants can be quite overwhelming. Nevertheless, amidst all this, it is the game plan that matters – you must know precisely your objective, have a robust plan to achieve it and should be able to stay focused, period.
Most people go to these events with an aim to sell, to connect, or to simply feed contact info into their phone’s contact management app. This certainly helps, but to build a sphere of influence and create valuable connections to tap into, we need to invest carefully and sensibly.
So, here are a few tips for you to get going.
1. Ensure ample phone storage: This may appear to be a trivial thing; however, a careless attitude may turn out to be a howler. When attending a significant networking event, if you realize your phone storage is full, or that your stored contacts are disheveled and stale, you may find yourselves struggling to add new contacts or to exchange any significant contact info with your new contacts.
Hence, before you attend any event, you must organize contacts on your Android or iPhone, and remove and merge duplicates to ensure you have ample phone space. Your phone’s internal address book management app may not be sufficient for the job.
A good idea can be to download the CircleBack app – a contact management app that helps you keep your contacts clean, accurate, and ready to go. Now that you have your networking tool ready, focus on learning more about the event and the people attending it.
2. Know more about the event attendees: It is imperative to find out and collect more information about the significant contacts attending the event. So, gather details and understand what your potential contacts may be looking for, and craft a persuasive elevator pitch accordingly.
Keep in mind that networking is a waste of time until you can add some real value to people. Thus, this speech should be succinct and should spark interest in what your organization does and how it solves a bigger problem. This will help you to connect meaningfully.
3. Connect meaningfully with prospects: Show your potential contacts how they will benefit from the alliance, communicate your USP, and you may even begin your relationship with a small gift. In no case should you ask for a favor before you have established a relationship. This can ruin it all.
Additionally, if time allows, work at expanding your network pool beside your decided target group, and intentionally seek out an entirely different set of people you come across during the conference. This can help you to know a brand new cluster, which may prove to be useful in long-term.
However, since time is limited, don’t just keep interacting, rather collect the contact info as quickly as possible.
4. Gather contact information ASAP: Once you have located your target contacts and begun conversing meaningfully, make it a point to quickly collect their info before you lose them. Use a smart business card scan app like ScanBizCards to scan their business card info instantly, and to exchange a quick intro so you can follow-up later with an in-person meeting and detailed discussion. Also, quickly export contacts to Salesforce or another CRM to make sure your contacts are safely stored so that you can follow up later.
5. Zoom into your powerful new connections. Follow-up with a thank you note specifically tailored to your prospect’s choices. Start nurturing your relationships. Engage with them on social media—be helpful. Keep them in touch, and make an attempt to seek a common ground—and earn a right to ask for a favor. They will likely reciprocate.When handled aptly, this may turn into a long-term relationship.
In a nutshell, when you are invited to a networking event, do not restrict yourself to a corner, or to passively listen to the speeches, or meet the elite class. It’s an opportunity to strategically analyze what you may be able to gain through the event, and hence, plan beforehand and invest sensibly. After all, we rely on our connections to get a foot in the door. So, prepare yourself, do your homework, reach out intelligently to the priority targets, act on the occasion, connect sensibly, and follow up. It’s a chance to make a real difference.