Do’s and Don’ts of Networking
Ever show up to a networking event and have that pit in your stomach? That hard-to-swallow, shaking-hand feeling? I know that I have been there before. A little unsure of how to navigate the giant room of strangers. Whether you’re an experienced networker or you’re new to the whole concept you can always get better and improve on your skills. I have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for you to help set your nerves at ease and to ensure you are making the most of you time at your next networking event.
Do – Show up on time (and by on time I mean 10 mins early)
This seems like a no brainer, right? According to studies, about 15-20% of people show up late to networking events. Showing up early will help you make meaningful connections with like-minded people who also show up early. Also, the room won’t be quite full yet, which makes finding your first connection a little easier.
Don’t – Hand business cards to everyone in the room
Nothing is more frustrating at a networking event than someone literally shoving business cards at me. I have found that if someone is really interested in what you do they will ask for your card. Only then should you reach for your card to hand over.
Do – Dress for the Occasion
This can mean something different for each industry. A good rule of thumb is to dress as you would if you were going to an important sales meeting. For the most part, if we look good, we feel good. Wear clothes that you are comfortable and confident in.
Don’t – Try to hard sell everyone in the room
I don’t feel like a networking group is the best place to make sales. Think about it, if everyone there is trying to sell then who is there to buy? I suggest focusing on making genuine connections with people you’d like to work with at some point.
Do – Have a clear explanation of what you do
I have heard this referred to as the “Elevator Speech”. Have a 60 – 90 second description of exactly what you do. In a time of instant information you must seize the moment. You don’t want to leave a conversation and the person have no idea what business you’re in.
Don’t – Ramble on about yourself
Want to know the trick of making great connections? Ask questions. Thats it. Really show interest in the person and ask questions to get to know them. Clients love to feel like they are your only client. People at networking event like for you to throw them the “softball” questions that they are comfortable answering to keep the conversation going.
Do – Follow up
Why the heck would you spend hours at an event like this and not follow up? I believe networking is about building relationships. All relationships take work so jot a note on a business card after a great conversation and schedule a follow up email or call.
As an account manager for Design Extensions, a big part of my job is connecting with people. That could mean clients, potential sales or people at a networking event. I always go in with the mind set of discovering how I can best help each individual. I follow these do’s and don’ts along with many more. I keep my main concern on how I can help, not on what I can sell. Networking is about building relationships. For any relationship to work you must be committed to it and work hard at it. One of our core values here at Design Extensions is commitment. We believe in long term relationships. Many of our customers have been with us for over a decade. We’re here for the long haul, and we’re committed to relationships that grow business. If you feel like your current agency isn’t committed, feel free to contact me.