11 Networking tips for beginners: making a great first impression
One of my greatest strengths is that I am a people-person, I love talking to new people and learning new things.
This is definitely at the core of my business and why The Travel Women is a successful online resource and social community as I host meetups and networking events to meet members of my community in person in NYC and whenever I can around the world!
In addition to hosting events, I also have attended more networking events than I can count that have given me some of my favorite clients and long-term friends!
However, not every networking event is created equally, and some can be a total waste of time, so manage your expectations and time wisely with the following networking tips!
Set networking goals: Before I go to a conference or event I set personal goals for myself, so I make sure I avoid distractions and come out of a new event with new connections.
It can be anything like find three potential guest bloggers or tell three new potential clients about your business or hand out 50 business cards at a conference.
Research: Know what the event is about and who might be there ahead of time! Networking event titles can be misleading, so make sure you know as much as you can about the company running it, potential sponsors, who are on the guest list and the goals of the event.
Only then can you make sure it aligns with your networking goals and who you might want to talk to. Reach out to people on the guest list ahead of time if possible that you specifically want to connect with.
Go early: The best and smartest networkers always arrive early. Especially if you are looking to meet the event hosts or sponsors who are required to be there early you will likely have their full attention before they are tired and busy later during the event.
Perfect your elevator speech: It might sound obvious, but you are there to say what you do quickly in a few sentences repeatedly, so make sure those few lines are short and sweet!
Make your pitch or elevator speech easy to understand and sound intriguing so that people ask questions and want to take your business card to learn more!
Give them things to look forward to like an upcoming newsletter or list or event you’re hosting that might interest them so they are more inclined to follow up.
Do not talk to people you know: Avoid leaning into comfortable conversations by talking only to people you already know. If you can talk to them outside of this event, then spend this time meeting new connections you might not otherwise have a chance to meet!
Ask who you should talk to: It might sound silly, but not enough people ask this easy question. When you arrive and check in, ask who the sponsor representation is. The person checking people in will know who is who and can tell you the best people to talk to early in the night.
Even in round discussions, feel free to ask a group, “What brings you here” and tell them what you are looking for too like: “I am looking to connect with other people who do _____, do you know anyone I should talk to?”
Repeat what you hear: It is so helpful to repeat names and what others say back to them not only so you can remember it but also so you can show you are listening!
Prepare questions: If you are networking in a new type of group, prepare potential thought-provoking questions that will get people to fill awkward silences and continue the conversation.
It is not what you say as much as how you say it: People might not remember the exact words you say, but they’ll remember the feeling of speaking with you, so don’t forget to let your passion shine! Your enthusiasm for your business is your best sales tool.
If you can make them feel your excitement, it is bound to rub off and they will remember how you said what you said!
How can you help someone you meet: Networking just for networking sake or just to collect business cards is not enough. The real goal is to make long term connections with people and the best way to do this is to think outside of your goals and needs.
Ask yourself as you hear another person’s elevator pitch and what they’re up to, how you can help them? Then offer them help, “I know someone who does something similar, I would love to help connect you, would you like that?” Reaching out and trying to help others is the best way to network successfully and stand out from the crowd.
Follow up afterward: Follow up as soon as possible with an email or phone call or social media connection. Feel free to write a template of how you might want to follow up after a specific conference or event including a link(s) to recent articles maybe you mentioned, but personalize each with something you discussed, so that they remember you!
What are your favorite networking tips? Comment Below!
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