Networking events are a great place to expand your list of useful contacts and if you are running a business, the people that you meet can help you drive your company forward. The problem is, it’s tough to make an impression at these events because there are so many people there. If there is somebody there that you really want to work with, you need to make sure that they leave with you at the front of their mind. That can be difficult when they have spoken to hundreds of people throughout the day.
The key to performing well at networking events is understanding what makes you memorable. When they leave at the end of the day, what aspects of the interaction do people remember and what makes you stick out from the rest of the crowd? These are the things that make you memorable during a networking event.
- Your pitch
- Your handshake
- Your conversational skills
- Your business card
- Your etiquette
- Your follow up
Before we look at anything else, it’s important to remember that your pitch is always the most important thing. Even though you are not giving a formal pitch, you are still telling people about the business and why they would benefit from working with you. It’s important that you are not pushy and you don’t launch into a full sales pitch because this leaves people with a bad impression. However, you do need to make sure you communicate all of the best things about you and your business in a concise way. So, work on a simple elevator pitch and work this into conversations with potential contacts. If you can demonstrate your value without being overbearing, you can create a memorable pitch.
However, your pitch will only be memorable to people if it is actually relevant to them, which is why it’s important that you target the right people. Before you attend an event, you need to spend time researching who is going to attend so you can draw up a list of people to speak to. Think about the event itself and who it is aimed at too. For example, if you want to build a network of female entrepreneurs, there are specific networking groups for that. By finding the right event and targeting the right people, you can make sure that your pitch is memorable.
When you meet a new person, they instantly start making a judgment about you, and that usually begins with your handshake. You might not think it makes much difference but it can actually tell you a lot about a person. If you don’t have a confident handshake, it makes you appear less accomplished and people are less likely to remember you. However, if you come in too strong, it could give the impression that you are a bit of a steamroller and people won’t want to work with you.
The key to the perfect handshake is to match the pressure applied by the other person. This can take a bit of practice, but once you master the perfect handshake, you can make sure that you don’t give the wrong impression and you start every conversation on a positive note.
Although your pitch is important, people will take notice of your general conversational skills. If you have a positive, relaxed interaction with them, they will remember you. If you have a very awkward interaction, they will still remember you but for the wrong reasons, and they certainly won’t contact you again afterwards. So, it’s important to brush up on your conversation skills.
Firstly, make sure that you are always polite and you introduce yourself and chat for a while before launching into your pitch. Make sure that the conversation is meaningful and interesting to the person you are talking to. You should already have an idea of what to discuss because you have researched the people you are talking to. Talk about industry-related things so you can engage them and demonstrate your knowledge. During the conversation, make sure that you leave space for them to respond too. People won’t have a good memory of their conversation if you talk and talk without letting them get a word in edgeways.
Eye contact is also incredibly important. Modern technology and a reliance on screens often mean that people don’t make eye contact as much as they normally would. When engaging in conversation, make sure that you maintain eye contact as it shows people you are interested in what they are saying and that you are sincere. Just make sure that you limit eye contact so the situation does not become uncomfortable. If you are not particularly good at holding eye contact, practice in normal conversations outside networking events. Sometimes, it can feel unnatural at first but as you practice more, it will become second nature.
If you are talking with somebody and you feel that you would both benefit from further contact in the future, you need to give them your business card. At a networking event, people are going to end up with a lot of business cards, so you need to make yours stand out. Using recycled business cards is a brilliant way to show that you are a socially conscious business owner, which is a priority for many people these days. The design of the business card is important too, so think outside the box. If you go for a boring white business card with your name and contact info on it, you will be forgotten immediately. Make sure you incorporate your branding and create an eye-catching business card. When people are going through their stack of contacts and deciding who to follow up with, your business card will jump out at them and they will immediately remember the interaction they had with you.
Etiquette is very important at networking events. Even though people are there to meet new contacts, that doesn’t mean you can just barge into a conversation with somebody that you are interested in talking to. If people are already engaged in a conversation and you butt in, you come across as rude and the interaction won’t be a positive one. So, make sure that you read the room and try to approach people as they are wrapping up a conversation and introduce yourself. If multiple people are talking, look at the way they are standing to see whether they are open to others joining. If they are in quite a closed circle, not leaving any space, this means that they are in the middle of a discussion and it isn’t a good time to introduce yourself. However, if they have quite an open formation, it’s likely that they are just chatting and they are looking for more people to join the conversation.
Finally, you need to get the follow up right after the event. If you come in with a long email pitch right away, this is going to make you look pushy and put people off. However, don’t make the mistake of waiting too long because somebody else will get in before you. It’s important that you contact them a few days after the event and just send them a simple email saying that it was great to meet them and ask if they want to set up a meeting soon. This shows that you are invested in the relationship but it doesn’t become overbearing.
These are the things that make a memorable interaction at a networking event. If you can get all of these elements right, you will see a good return from your next event.
Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.