I’m sure we’ve all walked into a conference room to awkwardly find a place to sit while waiting until the host formally starts the networking group – Then, stand up in front of everyone formed in a large circle and give your 30 second or less introduction speech.
Is this really networking?
Or maybe you find yourself talking to the same familiar faces at each networking event you attend because it’s comfortable.
Can you really say that’s networking?
To make the most out of a networking event and maximize your time, I hope you stick around to read a few tips and ideas on networking and how to get over the comfort barrier, how to ask better questions, and provide value to others.
The first step is already done. The fact you’re at a networking event shows you’re ready to put yourself out there!
But also remember the reason why you’re there.
What are you looking to achieve? Why?
Who are you looking to meet? Why?
Can you provide value to others? How?
These questions aren’t supposed to be deep and methodical – It simply sets a framework and clarity, which can help you cultivate successful and meaningful business relationships at an event, or anywhere really.
Once you’ve got this framework down, it can also help the process of creating a 30 second elevator pitch about yourself, your business, who you’re looking for, and how you can help others. When you’re clear, you’re more incline to approach other people and overcome your feelings of being uncomfortable.
Ask Better Questions
Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and resources with others and try not to always steer away from other professionals in unrelated industries.
There are numerous times where I have met professionals in an industry completely unrelated to what I was looking for (both professionally and personally) yet I have cultivated a valuable relationship that still to this day continues to grow. The trick is to ask the right questions opposed to just asking, “what do you do?”
I’m not saying every take away will be sunshine and rainbows, but when you can get yourself to ask better questions to truly understand a person (not just have a mundane conversation) you can uncover and get the most out of your time, and theirs.
1. What’s the story behind your business? How did you get started?
2. Where do you see yourself and/or business within the next three to five years?
3. What’s one of your proudest moments within your profession?
4. What advice would you give to anyone starting out in your profession?
5. What would you say is the greatest struggle/ pain points in the business?
It doesn’t totally sound like a podcast interview if you’re really in tune and genuinely care about what the person has-to say. Be intuitive and mindful with where the conversation flows as well.
Providing Value to Others
When you’ve crossed the comfort barrier by getting clear on your intentions, and asked better questions to get to know the person in front of you – Your next step can be focused on providing ultimate value!
How do you do this?
First, set your own goals that include others.
Here are few examples below:
1. Get to know/ touch base with five different people
2. Connect at least one person that you just met with an existing network
3. Get a separate meeting scheduled with at least one person
Leaving off by giving value can be very impressionable and help others trust that you can be a great connection or even do business with. Granted, everyone has a different perspective and definition of “value”, but think of it like this – Do you remember the time Jim, the local auto parts owner took the time out of his day to follow up and email you thanking you for your time? I’m sure it felt great! Right? If it didn’t – it should. Time is valuable – Maybe it took him five to ten minutes to write up, but it was still time dedicated to you.
Never underestimate the small things.
So there you have it.
The steps framework to make use of your time and get the most out of networking events. Overcome your comfort barrier, ask better questions and provide value to those you interact with. Practice it! It will never be perfect, and it shouldn’t be. Networking opportunities give you the chance to get better, be better and continuously grow and challenge yourself.
Hope you enjoyed. Share your thoughts and tips down below as well!
Hannah G. Lee