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Networking events are a great place to add to your list of useful contacts, and when you run a business, the people you meet can help drive your business forward. The problem is that at these events it’s hard to make an impression because there are so many people there. If there is someone you really want to work with, you need to make sure they keep you on their mind. This can be difficult when you’ve talked to hundreds of people all day.
The key to performing well at networking events is understanding what makes them memorable. When they leave at the end of the day, what aspects of the interaction do people remember and what sets you apart from the rest of the crowd? These are the things that make you memorable during a networking event.
Your parking space
Before we look at anything else, it’s important to remember that your pitch is always the most important thing. Even if you don’t give a formal pitch, tell people about the business and why they would benefit from working with you. It is important that you are not pushy or have a full sales pitch as it will leave people with a bad impression. However, you need to make sure that you are communicating the best things about you and your company in a concise manner. So work on a simple elevator pitch and incorporate it into discussions with potential contacts. If you can demonstrate your worth without being intrusive, then you can create a pitch to remember.
However, your pitch will only be remembered by people if it is really relevant to them. That is why it is important that you address the right people. Before attending an event, you need to spend time researching who will be attending so you can make a list of people to speak to. Also think about the event itself and who it is aimed at. For example, if you want to build a network of women entrepreneurs, there is special network groups for this. By finding the right event and targeting the right people, you can ensure that your pitch is memorable.
When you meet a new person, they’ll immediately start judging you, and that usually starts with your handshake. You may not think it makes much of a difference, but it can actually tell you a lot about a person. If you don’t have a confident handshake, you will appear less successful and less likely to be remembered by people. However, if you come too hard, it might seem like you’re a bit of a steamroller and people don’t want to work with you.
The key to the perfect handshake is pressure from the other person. This may take some practice, but if you master the perfect handshake you can make sure you are not making the wrong impression and that every conversation starts on a positive note.
Your conversation skills
Although your pitch is important, people will notice your general conversation skills. If you deal with them in a positive, relaxed manner, they’ll remember you. If you have a very uncomfortable interaction, they’ll remember you anyway, but for the wrong reasons, and they certainly won’t contact you afterwards. Hence, it is important to brush up on your conversation skills.
First of all, make sure you are always polite, introduce yourself and chat for a while before starting your pitch. Make sure the conversation meaningful and interesting to the person you are speaking to. You should already have an idea of what you want to discuss since you have researched the people you are speaking to. Talk about industry-related things so you can include them and put your knowledge to the test. During the conversation, make sure you leave space for them to answer. People won’t remember their conversation well if you talk and talk without letting them have a moment.
Eye contact is also incredibly important. Modern technology and the reliance on screens often prevent people from making eye contact as often as they normally would. When talking, be sure to keep eye contact as this shows people that you are interested in what they are saying and that you are being sincere. Just be sure to limit eye contact so the situation doesn’t get uncomfortable. If you’re not particularly good at making eye contact, practice in normal conversations outside of networking events. Sometimes it can feel unnatural at first, but as you practice more it becomes second nature.
Your business card
When you are talking to someone and you feel that you both would benefit from having another contact in the future, you need to give them your business card. At a networking event, people will end up with a lot of business cards, so you need to make yours stand out. Using recycled business cards is a brilliant way to show that you are a socially conscious entrepreneur, which is a priority for many people these days. The design of the business card is also important, so think outside the box. If you go for a boring white business card with your name and contact information on it, you will be instantly forgotten. Make sure you incorporate your branding and create an eye-catching business card. When people go through their pile of contacts and decide who to turn to, your business card pops up and they instantly remember the interaction with you.
Etiquette is very important at networking events. Even if people are there to make new friends, that doesn’t mean you can just get into conversation with someone you would like to talk to. If people are already engaged in a conversation and you interfere, you will appear rude and the interaction will not be positive. So make sure you read the room and try to approach people as they finish a conversation and introduce themselves. When multiple people are talking to each other, look at their posture to see if they are open to others. If you are in a fairly closed circle, leaving no room, it means you are in the middle of a discussion and it is not a good time to introduce yourself. However, if they are in a fairly open formation, chances are they are just chatting and looking for more people to join the conversation.
After all, you need to get the follow-up right after the event. If you walk in right away with a long email pitch you will come across as intrusive and put people off. However, don’t make the mistake of waiting too long because someone else will get on before you. It is important that you contact them a few days after the event and simply send them a simple email say it was great to meet them and ask if they would like to schedule a meeting soon. This shows that you are invested in the relationship, but it doesn’t become arrogant.
These are the things that make for a memorable interaction at a networking event. If you get all of these elements right, you will get a good return on your next event.
Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore the information contained herein, including opinions, comments, suggestions or strategies, is for information, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be viewed as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should do their own due diligence.