Have you ever left a business or networking event feeling like you've wasted your time? It shouldn't be like that. Follow these tips for networking with purpose.
Know how to get to the event site and how long it will take you so you can arrive on time. Getting lost and flustered and showing up late is only going to make you more anxious and less likely to leave a good impression or accomplish what you're setting out to do. Make sure you have your business cards and your phone (fully charged) on hand.
Know why you're there.
What are your goals for the event? Who are you hoping to connect with?
If you're not great at networking, going with a buddy might give you a boost of confidence — or it might encourage you to huddle up together and ignore the rest of the room. Going alone makes you come out of your shell in a way you might not do if you have a friend with you. This is key for me: I really do much better at these things when I go by myself.
Know why you're awesome.
You have something to offer. Plus, you're funny and smart. Let that fuel your confidence as you enter the room smiling.
Be the solution.
Instead of focusing on what they can do for you, go in there wanting to help, knowing you're the answer to everyone's problems. Your product or service can help them in a big way and they need to know that.
Look for solutions.
At the same time, be a good listener. Everyone in there is hoping to solve your biggest problem, too, so listen and learn as they share with you what they do best. Maybe you'll find exactly what you're looking for at the same time you make a new connection.
Be happy to meet everyone.
Not everyone will turn into your biggest client, but that doesn't mean they're not worth knowing. Maybe you can help them out with something down the road — or maybe they'll introduce you to a future customer or opportunity. Plus, it's just nice to have friends.
Connect with your new colleagues on Facebook or LinkedIn. Write a quick email — or even a handwritten note — to tell them how glad you were to meet them and remind them of whatever you talked about. This is about building relationships; all the names in your phone don't mean anything unless there is a story to go with them, unless they understand who you are and what you're about.
Do you like networking events? How do you get the most out of them?