If you are an introvert like me the last thing you want to do is spend time “networking”. Even if you are an extrovert your time is valuable and just mingling isn’t going to cut the mustard if you want to get any kind of meaningful results. So what is the best strategy when attending an event with intention of networking?
1. Be yourself, don’t sell yourself.
Authenticity reigns supreme when it comes to building relationships. The last thing you want to do is come off as someone trying to sell something. No one wants to be sold. Especially if you have to not be yourself to do it. People are attracted to people they can relate to and interact with. They can spot fake a mile away. Don’t be fake!
2. Take the time to get to know people.
Time is valuable, but so are deep relationships. If you want to be connected you have to be able to connect beyond the surface. Don’t try to meet every single person at an event. Find one or two people that fascinate you and learn something real about them. Walk away with the start of relationship not a business card.
3. Don’t lead with what you do.
You are not what your job title on the business card says or the place where you earn your income. If you lead with that you set the tone of the relationship as being transactional. If you lead with who you are and what makes you tick you open the door to connect in ways you may have never thought possible.
4. Get beyond small talk.
How about that weather. Boy traffic was a bear getting here. Anyone paying attention knows these things already. Get past them as quick as humanly possible, dive right into the deep end. It will scare away the people that aren’t capable of going deep and will attract those that are willing to make a connection. If nothing else it is memorable.
5. Help understand what people need so you can help them get it.
When getting to know someone understand their passions, desires and what it is that is holding them from obtaining what they want. If you help someone get what they want the power of paying it forward on their part sets off a chain reaction that comes back ten fold, but that’s not why you should do it. You shoudl do it because it feels damn good to help someone get along in the world.
6. Leave with connections and action items.
Make sure you have a way to connect and follow up with those you made connections with. If you are going to help them achieve their goals you will need to be able to get in touch with them. Have a next action to engage with before leaving them. Agree to connect them to someone, set a time to continue the relationship or provide them resources to move them forward.
7. Avoid people who are selling themselves or their products.
Don’t waste your time. If someone is selling give them a way to contact you to give you information on what it is they are selling and move to the next person. You can always review a sales pitch on your own time and terms. Connecting with people requires your full presence, so you should optimize your face to face time with activities that can’t be done on your own time. Invest your time with people that will be vulnerable enough to share their needs.