I’m just returning this evening from a networking event. Tonight was the monthly meeting of the Vancouver WA chapter of Green Drinks, and it was actually my first time to attend.
I go to networking events like this about every 2-3 weeks and I wonder how much I get out of them. I tend to meet about 10 new people and have meaningful conversations with 2-3. Is this the best use of my limited time? Lets explore how to make the time worth-while. Ivan Misner: over at Entrepreneur Magazine has some excellent guiding principles.
In Summary: Quality beats quantity. This is true of most aspects of life, but in this case we’re talking about networking. At any particular event, there are three things you can do to get the most out of your contact-building efforts. See them below:
- Limit the number of contacts per event.
- Write notes on the backs of people’s cards.
- Spend five to ten minutes talking and listening to each person.
Ivan stats that:
I certainly agree that meeting new people is an integral part of networking, but it’s important to remember why we’re doing it in the first place: to develop a professional rapport with individuals that will deepen over time into a trusting relationship that will eventually lead to a mutually beneficial and continuing exchange of referrals. When meeting someone for the first time, focus on the potential relationship you might form. As hard as it may be to suppress your business reflexes, at this stage you cannot make it your goal to sell your services or promote your company. You’re there to get to know a new person. A friend of mine told me something his dad always said: “You don’t have to sell to friends.” That’s especially good advice when interacting with new contacts.
He goes on to say that this advance networking approach is especially vital for mortgage brokers, real estate agents and others in highly competitive industries. You can’t go to a networking event without running into at least one person in some of those fields. This was of particular interest to me as I got to meet up with 2 friends in the Real Estate/Mortgage/Green world that I’m forming. Both Lynn Krogseng of Keller Williams and Renee Serface of Directors Mortgage were there. I think the conversations and renewed contacts I made with these great ladies were fulfilling and relationship building. We did great ladies!
Here are a few things to remember when it comes to meeting new people:
- You’re not interested in selling anything to this person you’ve just met; you want to find some way you can help her. You understand, of course, that what goes around comes around, usually in the form of referrals for your business.
- You want to create a visible identity with everyone you meet. A visible identity is the answer to this question: “How can I differentiate myself, in the mind of this other person, from the other five people she’s already met?”