Because I have kids now, I don’t attend nearly as many networking events as I once did. But there is real short-term and long-term benefits to attending business-focused networking events, no matter what the count.
I also once played putt-putt with my son, his friend and his friend’s father, which resulted in new business from the other Dad. So networking isn’t always related to business focused events.
People have told me that networking events are easy for me, because of my personality. While I think there is something to that (shy people don’t initiate conversations very often) I also think there are some basic tenets to business networking that I have learned over the past two centuries (see what I did there?) that can work for anyone – even voice-over talents.
Listen – If you want to offer the best non-verbal cue to another person that you are focused on what they are talking about, that you are engaged in the conversation, be an attentive listener. Another what of saying this is: don’t talk too much. Listening is the most important sales tool ever. Ever. Period. OK? Good
Don’t Sell – Networking events are not a sales call. Have a conversation – ask THEM questions about THEM. If they ask what you do, have a few thoughtful, impactful sentences to say about your business and some examples how it helps business (maybe like theirs – maybe apply a story you just heard them tell you about an aspect of their business) and leave it there. If you’ve done it right, THEM will ask YOU some follow up questions. You’ll be having a conversation.
Share – Be open to giving you insights on business issues (not politics, not religion) – keeping it all conversational. But don’t come cross as a know it all. And don’t try to impress…that just comes across as phony.
Be Real – and speaking of phony, don’t be. You probably aren’t and wouldn’t be but but when folks get in business situations, they can get nervous and try too hard, if you know what I mean. So as a rule of thumb, remember this “friends prefer to do business with friends.” So in business networking, be friendly.