Recently I went to a networking event with a friend. We were a little shocked at the way people were networking. They came across as if they were part of a contest to see who could hand out the most business cards. Numerous people came up to us and asked what we did, ok not a bad start. They then proceeded to hand us their cards, state what they did and walk away. I looked to my friend and said, “I feel like we should have just gotten a cheeseburger with that drive thru order”. It was quick, in and out just like when you go to a fast food joint, no real substance.
I know some may be saying, the more people you meet, the more people you can connect with. Yes, this is true, but there was no connection. There was no opportunity to qualify me as a customer or as a referral partner. No chance to get to know me and what I may have to offer to you, or what services I may need from you. Simply asking me what I do, state what you do and be gone does not build a relationship. Here are some simple steps you can follow:
1.) Introduce yourself, let them know who you are and what you do.
2.) Ask a few questions of the person, find out what they do and if you can be of help to them.
3.) Ask a few more questions, find out as much information about this person’s needs as you can. How can you help them if you do not know what they need?
4.) Be present in the moment. Do not be distracted by the next shiny object/ person. People can tell when you are being fake.
5.) Decide if they may be someone you want to further communicate with, even if you decide they are not a good candidate now be polite, you never know who they know or where they will go next.
6.) Offer to follow up with them through a phone call or email (your choice).
7.) Ask for their card and give them yours.
8.) FOLLOW UP with them, the most crucial part and the reason you do not want to run around the room grabbing cards.
The point of networking is to start to build a relationship. When you meet someone you are deciding if this is someone you want to learn more about. Do we have anything in common? Can we be good referral partners? Can I work with you on future projects? None of these questions can be answered in the brief time we will spend together. And this definitely cannot be determined by you asking me one question and handing me a card.
Spending 5 minutes with each person you talk to, will still allow you to meet 12 people in an hours’ time. Do you have time to build a relationship with 12, maybe only you know the answer? Remember the work is not done, relationships take time to build.