I have a confession to make . . . I don’t love networking meetings. I’ve never been really comfortable at large social gatherings. I don’t enjoy the superficial social chatting or the noise and environmental stimulation involved when large groups get together. They take a lot of energy for me and when I’m done, I’m exhausted. I do much better in one to one conversation or small intimate groups where you can have deeper, more meaningful interactions.
All of that said, I know that networking is an important part of spreading my message and building my business so over the years, I have discovered some tips to make networking productive and (believe it or not) enjoyable for myself. Since I know I’m not alone in my dislike of networking events, I want to share these tips with you.
1. Figure out where your “people” are. Every networking group is different. When you are first starting out, visit as many different groups as possible to get a feel for them. Keep a list of each one you visit and put a star next to the ones you liked and cross off the ones you didn’t like. Visit the ones you like a few more times, decide which ones have your “peeps” in them and then pick your top 2 favorite meetings and commit to attending them regularly. Networking is really about building relationships. You have to attend regularly and participate to build relationships. I have my 2 favorite meetings where that have my “people” at them and I go as often as possible.
2. Notice who you are drawn to and make a meaningful connection. Some people are good at walking into a group and acting like it’s their party. Others, like me, are not. I do much better connecting with people individually and I always look for a way to connect on a meaningful level. At every meeting I pick the people that I think are interesting (I like their energy or I like what they said or their product/service interests me) and I start a conversation with them. I start by asking about them, their business and their life and I always get a business card from them. I connect with as many people as I am drawn to during each meeting.
3. Continue the connection and build it into a relationship. I take the business cards of the people I spoke to and I send each of them an email that lets them know how much I enjoyed meeting them, recaps the highlights of our conversation (any information or resources I promised to share or what I enjoyed about talking with them) and invites them to continue the conversation to discuss how we can support each other in growing our business. Each person has the potential to be a JV partner, a referral partner and/or a customer for you (and vice versa). You will never know if you don’t talk to them and find out.
Even if you are an introvert that prefers one on one connections that are more intimate, you can use networking events to create powerful relationships that will propel your business forward.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please comment below.