Excited? No me neither.
So many people go to networking meetings for what they can get. I’ve always felt really uncomfortable with that. Have you ever been talked at for a length of time and had to listen to someone else’s drivel? How memorable are those people (for the right reasons)?
Tip Number 1: The PopUp way is the opposite (obviously).
Don’t network for what you can get, network for what you can give.
Our networking workshops at the PopUp Business School are called the Mafia Guide to Networking. This doesn’t mean you have to bring a horse’s head with you. It’s more about making friends.
You know the scene from Donnie Brasco: ‘He’s a friend of mine.’
And what do friends do? They help each other! So when you meet someone new, what can you give?
Alan: One of the most influential people I have met Networking came when I was on a training course and I offered to help a fellow participant to write a PowerPoint pitch.
(For those that know me you know I love this stuff!) I helped him out.
This one interaction led to a business partner, meetings at 10 Downing Street with the Special Advisor to the PM, meetings at the House of Lords and £10,000s of business.
It all started with me focusing on what I could give.
Tip Number 2: Get out the small talk and level up the conversation with a great question
Asking great questions can help turn a dull event into a fascinating dialogue with someone new.
One of the expressions that has hit me most over the last ten years is “The quickest way to be interesting is to be interested” and this has enabled me to connect with so many interesting people around the world.
Questions are the key to getting the other person talking and learning more. You never know what you might find out!
Here are a few you could ask:
Tip Number 3: Stop giving out business cards because you know what happens to them
First they get stuffed into a purse or wallet and then, after a month or so the wallet or purse gets too fat with paper so we have a clear out.
The business cards make it to the kitchen drawer (third one down usually). And then in three months the kitchen drawer will be stuffed with paper so we have a clear out. The business cards then get looked at once, you say to yourself “oh yeah I remember them” and then they get binned.
Don’t let that be one of your business cards.
Instead of giving out business cards, take them and commit to following up. Try this:
“I don’t have any business cards with me can I take your contact details and I’ll send you an email so we can stay in contact.”
Unless it’s someone you don’t really want to stay in touch with – in which case by all means give them your card.
You must own the follow up as if you leave it to the other person it may or may not happen.
We had a fabulous musician on one of our courses who was doing music at people’s weddings. When we got to this section of the workshop she told us the following story. She had gone to a wedding fair and met someone planning their own wedding, played them a demo of the music and then had a great chat. The wedding planner took the business card and said they would call to book.
Our Musician then started to wait for the call back
Anything could have happened. The business card got lost, they changed their mind or just forgot about it.
The musician is still waiting for that call.
Don’t be left waiting take their business card and take control of the relationship.
Tip Number 4: Go for maximum fun
If you’re someone who bristles at the thought of networking go for as much laughter as you can – people will gravitate to you. Just before you walk in the door ask yourself this question:
"How can I make the next two hours brilliant fun?"
In a recent study of why people change suppliers (B2B) I was amazed to see that 71% of companies would change suppliers if the new supplier was more FUN!
Tip Number 5: Leverage your existing network
Send an email to all of your contacts with a brief (2 lines max) update of what you’re doing, say you wanted to stay in touch and offer your interest in what they’re doing – and your help!
Pick your top 10 people that you know that are connections (but not that close to) and ring them!
You have to take action to chat to people and get to know what they are up to and vice a versa.
Did you know you can download all your Linkedin Contacts email addresses and then email them?
Start staying in touch with the people you know and get working your existing contacts!
The two sayings I would love you to take out into the world as you network are:
We would love to hear your networking tips, ideas and stories. Please put them in the comments below and we will update the article and make it stronger as we go.
Thanks for reading and make sure you come along to one of our events soon!
We can’t cram an entire 3-hour workshop into a 1000 word article.
See you at an event soon!