4 Ways to Increase Networking Effectiveness

Throughout any given week we attend a number of netWORKing functions. For some of us, we are excited about the prospect of meeting our next great referral source, customer, friend, etc. and for others it is viewed as a necessary evil.

I will tell you that I have attended countless netWORKing events over my career. From those countless events, what I have come to realize is that netWORKing has proven time and time again to be the most valuable use of my time in terms of return—and I am not just talking in monetary terms here. I love networking events because they are almost always full of like-minded individuals who are there for the same reasons I am…to meet other leaders in their industry who can help. And if you do your homework and go to the right events, you will meet people that you can either learn from in some way or help in another.

The big reason why networking events aren’t successful for a lot of people is because they try to use the platform for the wrong reason(s). NetWORKing events aren't about how many business cards you hand out/collect or how many sales pitches you gave. NetWORKing is about being genuine and authentic. It's about building trust, relationships, and seeing how you can help others. You should use these opportunities to get to know your top prospects better...not to try and meet every soul in the auditorium or close deals.

So, how do you increase your netWORKing effectiveness? Here are 4 simple tips to better netWORKing:

1. Set Goals. Know who you want to meet, what you would like to accomplish from the interaction, and what you are going to offer that may help them…not you.

2. Be Interesting! Sounds simple enough but it isn’t for a lot of people. If you want to be interesting the easiest way to do that is to be interested in the person or persons you visit with. Make the conversation about them and not you. By doing so it shows that you are a conversationalist and not a pushy salesperson.

3.Ask only open-ended questions. It opens discussion and it reinforces that you are interested.

4.Follow up immediately with each person you connect with. Pick up the phone, write a handwritten note but whatever you do DON’T email. It’s cold, it’s impersonal, and chances and it doesn’t reinforce that you are interesting.

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