by John Middleton February 16th 2017
It was great to meet you all tonight and thank you for making me so welcome. Here is a quick summary of the key points we covered:
Networking for me is about “building effective relationships over time for mutual benefit”
BLOK members may have very different objectives for networking but most business ladies are looking to increase their circle of contacts. This can only happen if we go out of our way to speak with new people…. And that is where most of us miss out as we seek instead a familiar face and stick close to those we know. This is a very dangerous situation for an association where the same people meet regularly as it leads to cliques. When new members join and attend their first few meetings, especially if they are a little shy, it will be very difficult for them to integrate and they may as a result just leave. It might help to nominate a couple of members to be “guest hosts” responsible for greeting new members, establishing their objectives, and introducing them to other useful contacts. This will break down barriers.
The reason cliques often develop is that we turn up to networking sessions with no clear plan or strategy. It helps to establish a clear objective and then work on the necessary skills.
- Business Cards: Must have them in plenty to enable those you meet to follow up with you Name Badge: Keeps your name in clear view, makes it easier for people to approach you
- Delegate List: Get one in advance, research the delegates, work out a “must meet” list
- Info Capture: Use a Dictaphone or note pad to capture the key information you uncover
- Database: Post event, capture all the key points you captured on a database with key word search. Your hard work can then serve you, and others, in the future as well as now.
If we do not know what we are looking for we will never find it. What do we want to achieve from our networking, I
nformation share? Referrals to business opportunities? Benchmarking? Research?
My strategy is to meet as many people as I can to learn about their business and day to day activity. I store all the information I gather to help me, and others, in the future. I am ideally looking for someone who meets, in their day to day activity, those people who are ideal end users of my company products and services. This person is in an ideal position to refer opportunities to me if they come across them. It is likely that I will be meeting similar contacts in my daily activity that can help them meet their objectives. This provides the seed to grow a very effective win / win relationship in the future for both parties.
My objective therefore at any networking opportunity is to look for this person…I know very clearly what I am looking for. What is your version of this?
A technique is vital in order for you to know exactly what you are going to do when you arrive (instead of looking for that friendly face!).
Get the Delegate List in advance and research the companies that interest you on Google. Look the individual delegates up on Linkedin, it’s surprising what information their home page can uncover in advance of you meeting them! – Highlight those you most need to meet (this is your hit list).
On arrival, if you do not know your target individuals just ask someone if they can point them out for you…or even better, take you across and introduce you. If you don’t know anyone just wander up to a cluster of people talking and wait…if they don’t acknowledge your presence just move in a little closer!
As you invade their space eventually you will engage eye contact. Then just smile, apologise for interrupting but explain you don’t know anyone and ask for help…it will always be forthcoming! Once you are with your new contact, introduce yourself and then spend a few minutes learning about their business and their circle of influence (who they meet day to day). You are looking to compare the information you uncover with the needs you have identified as your Strategy. Exchange business cards and make sure you have enough information to follow up later. Don’t spend all your time with one person…keep moving. Make notes of all the key information you collect.
After the event take time to add all the information to a database where it can be recovered when required. This gives you valuable information for the future to help yourself or others who might be looking for a suitable referral.
Finally, the most important thing to do now is follow up with those contacts where you have identified mutual interests or opportunity. Most people, after networking, throw the cards they collected in a drawer and their attention quickly switches to the business of the day. When you follow up, you now stand out…this is the start of a potential win / win relationship.
I hope the above notes serve as a useful summary and I would be delighted to hear any feedback on how you found the evening. Please feel free to let me know the bits you liked and any that you didn’t. Were there any areas you struggle with that I did not touch upon? I will answer any questions you ask if I can!