Summer has officially started, and many people will start to go to parties, events – any type of get togethers.
I thought after several people asked to re post my Networking Checklist when you are at an event.
Modify it to make it your own- and create and build new connections this summer and beyond
BEFORE YOU GO:
- Set a goal for the event. Make it specific and strategic to your business situation and needs. Be realistic and know that for your goal to be a reality you must follow-up and take the action steps after the event.
- Do your research. Find out all you can about the event including any interesting facts about the location, its purpose, the organization sponsoring and people likely to attend. Then ask yourself, “what is my reason for attending this event and what is my networking potential”. Check the website to find out who the organizer is; who is on the advisory board, and what the mission and agenda is. Learn as much as you can in advance. If you are hosting, you have the opportunity to research all those invited.
- Identify who you’d like to meet. Think strategically about those attending. Set a goal to research 3-5 people you would ideally like to meet. Also consider calling or emailing ahead to introduce yourself to those hosting or planning the event—you will differentiate yourself.
- Prepare your “opening line.” Think in advance of what you will say as you meet people for the first time. Think ‘open-ended’ questions to start a conversation.
- Have a list of “get to know you questions.” Prepare some questions that help you build rapport as you are connecting and keep the conversation going. From your research in advance about the group and association, you will already have some material to frame your questions.
- What brought you here today?
- Hello, I don’t believe we have met yet, “I’m _____ from ____ and you are?”
- What brought you to the meeting?
- I’m thinking of joining the group. Are you a member? Tell me a bit about what you like.
- What are some trends you are seeing in your business?
- How would I know if I’m speaking to someone you would like to meet or could possibly become a client for you or your business?
- How long have you lived in the community?
- What other questions would you add?
- Who are you?
- Who do you work with (target market)? (your niche)
- What solutions do you provide?
- What is the benefit you offer?
- What differentiates you?
- Grooming essentials – simple and often overlooked.
- Business cards – an adequate supply, in good condition, always have them with you.
- Two card cases – take one for your cards and one for those you collect (keep in separate pockets).
- A nice pen – an accessory for your image.
- A small notepad – to jot down things you learn immediately after speaking with someone that you will follow up with.
- Note cards and stamps – be prepared with the note cards stamped and you can easily follow up immediately with a quick thank you note to those you connected with.
AT THE EVENT:
- Your Discovery Process. Think about these before every encounter: Learn something new, give something such as a piece of advice or a suggestion, take away a piece of information you can use later, and find a way to follow –up with those you had a solid connection with.
- Take a deep breath. You have arrived, you’ve done your homework and you’re ready!
- Be present. Turn off or silence all electronic devices to avoid distractions.
- Exude a positive attitude. Be ready to engage and enjoy the prospect of meeting new people and reconnecting with those you know.
- Enhance your self-confidence. Remember what you have to offer as an expert in your field and the firm brand that stands behind you. Have your 30-second introduction talk prepared for this event. Think, how do I wish to be remembered, what is my “headline” and benefit statement, and why should they care?
- Be open minded. Go to give and learn without any immediate expectations—except to learn, connect, and give away something. Think, there is someone here today that I can learn from and give something away (a piece of advice or information). Often those we least expect turn out to be excellent opportunities either for themselves or someone they know.
- Smile. Have a ready and genuine smile to show your interest and approachability (also a great confidence booster). Create the slow build.
- Firm handshake and connect. Make a positive, human connection. Ears and eyes open and ready to connect.
- Wear a name tag. Highlight your name tag—it’s a conversation starter. Place it on your right side, to be seen as people shake your right hand—the way our eyes naturally look.
- Listen and learn. Ask about the other person first — remember that true networking is about giving without concern that you will get something back. Make a point to actively listen and you will learn something new and useful. Listen with your eyes and ears, don’t interrupt and jot down later what you learned. (I am amazed about the information I pick up when I least expect it.) Be sure to ask them ‘what they do’—people love to talk about themselves and their interests and you will be remembered as a good conversationalist because you listened.
- Be ready to take the initiative. Approach others with positive expectations and genuine interest. Besides the people you identified in advance that you would hope to possibly meet—remember these folks to say hello to also—to maximize your attendance.
- Greeter and/or organizer
- People you meet in line as you are checking in
- Those in line to get a drink or food
- Someone standing aloneRemember–you only have to say hello, smile, and be pleasant. You will not have a full conversation with everyone you meet—yet you never know unless you reach out.
- It was great to meet you and I look forward to continuing our conversation. As we discussed, I will follow up with you (when they told you to follow up) and via (their communication preference).
- It was great chatting with you—I look forward to seeing you at another event. Thank you and enjoy the rest of the meeting.
- I’m very glad we met. Continued success and when I have an opportunity or suggestion for you, I will definitely be in touch.
AFTER THE EVENT: YOUR FOLLOW-UP ACTION PLAN
- Within 24 hours, send an email to those you connected with. A hand-written note, simple and sincere, stating your pleasure at meeting them, appreciation of their time and any information you promised to send. You will differentiate yourself.
- Send materials immediately. People who follow-up promptly will always stand out. Send only what you promised—less is more—you will have time to bring more as you deepen the connection and have your first meeting.
- Reach out within two weeks after the event to suggest a meeting with those that said they would enjoy the next step. Be strategic in your follow-up. If there was interest in further contact after the event, be the one to follow-up with something specific, suggesting an activity, time and place.
- If a contact of yours provided you with a referral or strategic introduction, be ready to tell them of your follow-up and results. Let people know what happened, keep them in the loop, next steps and a sincere thank you for the connection and introduction. Referrals are the key to many new and successful opportunities. Always thank and keep the “Referrer” in the know and how they contributed to your success. I call this my ‘Thank You Chain’ with the following steps
- Working from past to present, think about the chain of events that led to a current client.
- Make a list of the people who helped you through referrals, endorsements, advice, or in other ways.
- Write, call, send a personalized e-mail, thank on social media, or write a handwritten note to thank them for their confidence in you. Report how you are doing and how their assistance positively impacted your success the prospect or client.
- Each time you receive a new piece of business that was in any way related to their help, keep them up to date and thank them again for the part they played.
- Remember the ‘event’ is only the starting point. To build strong connections into your universal network—it is about taking the next steps to build on the relationship and to do so consistently.