The Beginner Networker Journey...
T-minus 1 week before networking event: "This event sounds great! I’ve got this. Thanks for the heads up.”
T-minus 12 hours: “Start thinking about your slick introduction and conversation starters, what to wear and target people to meet.”
T-minus 6 hours: “Gosh it’s 3am and I need to be at that event soon. Need to sleep, but can’t quite nod off.
Still subconsciously running through my perfect introduction, double checking what to wear,
hoping traffic is kind, fingers crossed there will be parking spaces oh crikey do I have change for parking(!?!).”
T-minus 2 hours: “Red-eyed but loaded with coffee and toast, killer suit ready, cards in pocket and
I’m good to go.”
T-minus 1 hour: “Drive to the venue with a whole flock of butterflies bursting into impromptu street dance.”
T-minus 30 mins: “Found a parking space, chilled in the car for 15 minutes and now begins the “long walk”
across the car park to the venue.”
You got there!
“Awesome. Now to find a friendly face or familiar colleague and set up basecamp with people I know, hopefully new contacts join in.”
“Super event with a brilliant host. Kinda feel like I should have spoken to more people though. Humm pleased I went, but did I maximise the opportunity? I did speak to one new person but was so focused on my story that I can’t quite remember what business he was in. What to put in that CRM?”
Give or take, do you recognise or relate to this person’s journey?
Truth is, most of us have been there in some form. I have worked with a broad variety of clients who at some point have shared this story.
In this blog we’re going to talk about techniques to overcome some of the more personal challenges around
networking, but if you take nothing else away from this article, just understand that if you experience any
of the things we’ve mentioned, you’re absolutely not on your own.
It’s easy for us to get so absorbed by our thoughts that despite being well intentioned we’re not
setting ourselves up for networking success.
Here are a selection of quick-fire networking tips. Some may seem obvious but if you get nervous
around networking, these will help. For others, consider this a health check and feel free to share your tips too:
What’s your motive?
Why do you want to go to the event and what would you like to get out of it? Grow relationship base, meet with a new contact, learn about a specific subject matter etc?
Having a clear motive will assist you with the pre-event nerves. If you attend with a view to closing a deal you may be sadly let down. Networking is about an investment of time, building relationships and adding value. In the medium-long term there might be business to be done, but people buy from people they like and ultimately trust. This is a hard one to convert with one face-to-face at a timeline driven and bustling networking event.
If you have access to the attendee list before the event, try highlighting people you’d really like to meet and drop them an introduction via email/LinkedIn message in advance and ask to meet up during the event.
Setting targets in terms of number of conversations may or may not work depending on what you’re looking to get out of the event, but setting expectations (x10 intros) might work for you. One word of caution here of course. It doesn’t matter if you only have 5 intros, it’s about the quality of time you spend in conversation that is paramount.
What to say
Firstly, relax. You’re there for a conversation with likeminded people who have identical or similar networking objectives as you.
Take your time, sip a coffee and have a relaxed conversation with those in front of you. If you think too hard about what to say,
you might miss an ideal opportunity to add value to the person in front of you.
Perhaps a bit cliché but the tried and tested opener such as,
“My name is xxxxx and I’m here with xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx. What do you do?” Will get you started.
If you walk in and everyone is already in their huddles having great conversations, it’s ok to approach them and ask to join in.
This is common place at networking and after all it’s the reason we’re all in the room.
Goes without saying that the amount of preparation done by the event organiser and guest speaker is considerable.
Where appropriate it is best practice to thank both parties for their time and contribution.
If you have taken the time to speak with someone and you’ve both agreed to exchange cards, then follow-up the conversation to arrange
a more focused 1-2-1 when the time’s right.
The above strategies are just a selection of concepts we discuss during client coaching. Much like driving a car, learning a foreign language or musical instrument, it takes time and practice to become more confident. When you implement the above ideas, you’ll be setting yourself on the way to becoming a hugely successful, valued and informed networker.
About Impact Sales Coaching
Impact Sales Coaching offers tailored coaching to clients from various sectors around the UK.
Their sales coaching is written and tailored around a client brief to ensure relevance while
at the same time delivering an experience that focuses on core structured themes that support
the business’ continuous improvement and growth.
They understand that all businesses are different and with their own values; however at the core are
opening and closing sales - this part needs to be driven by the sales team or business owner in
a unique and compelling way.
Give Adam a call or email for an informal conversation around ways in which coaching
can add value to your business.