Cultivating the right professional connections is pivotal to expanding operations and seeking out new opportunities for your business. One of the most efficient ways t0 make new connections is to attend networking conferences and events. Whether you attend a small meet up of like-minded entrepreneurs or an industry conference, networking is undeniably important to a growing business.
The key to successful networking is the right mindset and approach. Give yourself and your business a proper introduction. You want people to remember you and what your business is all about, without sounding full of yourself and overly self-promotional.
Below are 10 tips to help you make the right impression at your next networking event and be remembered for the right reasons.
1. Build genuine connections
Networking is similar to going on a first date. You don’t want to talk about yourself and your business the entire time. Show genuine interest in people and get to know them. Ask questions and make sure you understand their business and what they do. Business opportunities usually present themselves after you’ve got to know each other and built a genuine connection.
2. Be happy
Nobody wants to talk to the miserable person in the corner. Try to be approachable and welcoming. A simple smile and inviting posture goes a long way to making a good first impression.
3. Listen to people
Take the time to listen to the conversation when you first join a group. A great way to make a good first impression is to join in with a remark that shows you were really listening. Make an acknowledgment of a key point made in the conversation instead of trying to highjack the conversation and focus on yourself and your business.
4. Don’t be a salesperson
Try to be yourself and keep things casual when you talk about your business. Nothing kills a conversation like an over promotional salesperson that only wants to talk about their business. Focus on being yourself and sharing information, rather than trying to sell yourself.
5. Find out who will be in attendance
Most events offer readily available attendee lists via online platforms or a custom event app. Research the other attendees at the event and come up with questions that will help you learn more about their business. The right question can help people open up and engage in a conversation, making it easier to find out how you could help each other.
6. Bring along a friend
If it’s possible, bring someone along that you know from another company or business. Not only can a familiar face make you feel more comfortable, but it’s also a great way for you to talk each other up. It’s hard to promote yourself and your accomplishments without sounding boastful, but your friend can do it for you and you can return the favor.
7. Show interest in other attendees
Most people enjoy talking about themselves. Show some interest and be curious about other people and their businesses. Do your research on the attendees, ask thoughtful questions, and congratulate them on any recent achievements. It helps to make others feel comfortable and demonstrates your ability to listen. By showing more interest in others, the more interesting you become yourself.
8. Introduce yourself with a memorable anecdote
Prepare an introduction or story that tells people what you do and what your business is all about. Why did you start your business? Make it personal and try to make it as memorable as possible.
9. Ask how you can help
Networking is a powerful business tool. But your focus shouldn’t be entirely on what people can do for you. When you start a new conversation, keep in mind how you can help the person. Sometimes being able to provide a simple introduction or some advice can go a long way to forging a lasting and mutually beneficial connection.
10. Forget the strict agenda
Don’t make the mistake of attending with a checklist of collecting a set amount of business cards or gathering “x” amount of email addresses. Try to relax, introduce yourself, and make new friends. Being authentic helps relieve any pressure you might be feeling and makes you appear more welcoming.
Networking events can be an intimidating and awkward environment if you go in with the wrong mindset. By following the above tips, you can enjoy your next networking event, make a great first impression and introduce yourself and your business in the best light.
George Drennan is the founder of Eagle Content, a UK based copywriting company that helps digital marketing brands and businesses connect with their clients. A graduate of University College Falmouth, he currently resides in Shropshire. When he’s not wowing clients with his killer copy, he can often be found contemplating what is the best coffee brewing method in the universe.