in Business

5 Networking Tips: Be a shining star and maximize your time meeting new people

I used to do about one networking event a week, sometimes more. Networking events work, but you have to learn how to prevent burnout and you absolutely must meet as many people as you can.

Most networking events are really two parts. The first part is socializing. It usually lasts a half hour to an hour. The second part is typically when everyone sits down and listens to a speaker chosen for that specific event.

The real trick is to go to events when everyone is standing up and talking, and then skip out as soon as some bloke stands up to give his speech.

#1: Go early, talk to as many people as you can, give them all your business card. I’ve had people pull my card out of their index years after a networking event. It pays off years later.

#2: Keep moving, it’s ok to say that you’re going to meet some other people.

#3: Talk about anything but quickly move on to finding out whether they are a prospect or not. If they aren’t, keep moving. I usually begin by asking what business they’re in.

#4: Leave early. Don’t stay around for the whole thing. Maximize face time.

#5: There are some events that have free networking events before the ball gets rolling (and someone starts a lengthy speech). Sometimes you can sneak into these and meet and greet people for about an hour without even having to pay. I admit I’ve done it.

#6 (Bonus!): Whatever you do, be enthusiastic about your business and what you do. Nothing else matters at networking events.

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  1. I admit that I haven’t been to any of the local networking meetings, but we have a *ton*! I have been a bit skeptical as to if any of them actually work, but I guess they do. I will put them on my Google Calendar.

    Most of them are at 7:30 in the morning, which is the only downfall 🙁

  2. I used to go to this one that started at 7 am. It was even worse than that though, I had to show up a half hour early to help set up. Ugh.

  3. i have to admit that i dont network – how do you get to know about them and doesnt everyone go to sell not to buy? and how do you get around to the sales pitch without it sounding cut throat?

    Mark

  4. Sales is a big part of networking, but you can get a lot more out of it. Partnerships, new talent, available funding, tenders, basically all angles of business/marketing.

    That all sounds a bit Gordon Gecko, but lets face it you wouldnt be there if you are not in business!

    I go to a lot of the design nights in Belfast, they can be great fun, tonights is ‘Party in the Car Park’.
    (A firm here are throwing a BBQ in the Parking Lot)

  5. Mark, the trick is you’re not ever giving the person a sales pitch except telling them what you do when they ask you (they’ll return the favor after you’ve asked them).

    You never throw your pitch at them, instead you let them ask questions. They’ll ask them if they’re interested.

  6. They key that I found works for me is to NOT ask initially what kind of work they do. Rather, try to find some other common connection in order to build a level of comfort with the other person. Something like “Hi, my name is Mark, this is my first time to one of these, how about you?” Usually two folks who are at a network meeting to network can then build from something like that — and then eventually get to the business stuff. Exchange cards and if a connection was made or there is some potential then set up a time to meet again over coffee or something. If not, see if you can pass him/her off to someone else via an introduction and then move on.

  7. Great article. However, when networking, I always find it hard to hide the real reason I’m there. I feel uncomfortable making it obvious that I’m networking.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, advice?

  8. Mark, good comment. I’ve done that myself. There are a ton of first timers.

    Shalom: You gotta get over that. Everybody else is there with the purpose of meeting other people as well.

  9. Same, I’m not terribly good at ‘Networking’ I always feel weird thinking everyone’s just there to sell. However I also enjoy just chatting in general about the things you face in a business. It’s always nice to hear fresh opinions. Maybe I network ‘wrong’ 😉