Last week I was in Costa Ric
a doing what I love most: schmoozing, fundraising, and generating buzz about a project that I feel passionately about. You see, I genuinely enjoy networking and am definitely in my element when put in these types of situations.
I know that most people do not feel as invigorated as I do to walk around a conference or cocktail hour and pitch their ideas to other people. But there really is a science to it, and I would like to share with you 10 wonderful techniques I have used over the years to perfect my ability to work a room and spawn interest about what I am doing:
1. Be Excited, Not Fearful!
The most important thing to do before you begin networking is to get yourself pumped up! If you go into the situation scared and fearful, it will not be very productive. Optimism and excitement breed success and accomplishment. So spend 5 minutes in a quiet place before you start working a room and think about the wonderful opportunity you have in front of you. Get yourself in a positive frame of mind!
2. Do Your Homework
Make sure you are well versed in your product/service, and understand how it fits within the context of the event you are attending. Ask yourself: why would people at this gathering be interested in my offering? Next, do some research on other attendees and take time to learn a little about their businesses. People love to feel like everyone knows who they are. This knowledge will come across in your conversations as pure confidence, and people will be attracted to your language.
3. Be Present in Each Conversation
At any dinner, conference or gathering you may be in contact with hundreds of people who can help you, and it is imperative to be
present in each and every conversation. This is SO critical, and where most people fail. Why? Because you
never know when inspiration or collaboration is going to strike! Furthermore, it is almost always happens in the least expected ways. So you have to be open to every person you meet, and take the time to listen to each of them.
4. Offer Recommendations
When you are really listening to people, ideas may strike you that have no immediate benefit to you but can help others tremendously. Offering helpful insights and connecting other people is a wonderful way to create a positive energy force around you. Its amazing how when you act in this manner it always comes back to you in some form. Karma really works my friends…so don’t only think about you and have the attitude “what can I do to help this person”!
5. Keep Time Slots Available For One on One
When you strike a real connection with someone (or with a group of people), make sure you have the ability to carve out time to speak with them separately. At my meeting last week, I always made sure to set aside one hour during the day where I could meet with potential collaborators individually. This helps tremendously and makes follow-up so much easier.
6. Be Passionate About What You Are Doing Without Being Overbearing
Ask yourself: are you passionate about what you are doing? If so, people will gravitate towards you and be interested in what you have to say. If not, and you are just “going through the motions”, then you will have less success. If you do have passion, it might be necessary to temper it certain times. Be wary of being arrogant or having the “what I am doing is the best thing ever” attitude. No one likes that, and your overbearing enthusiasm may actually repel people who can help.
7. Make Sure Your Hosts/Conference Organizers Know About You
The people who run dinners, meetings and conferences are the central connectors. They can be integral to getting the word out about your offering. Make a point to introduce yourself (if you don’t know them) and speak intelligently about what you do. Even better—offer to help them…this will go a long way and they will return the favor by introducing you around. Again, have the “what can I do to help” attitude.
8. Have Adequate Marketing Materials
It is imperative to have more than enough business cards, pamphlets, shirts, mugs, or whatever it is that you can give away to leave a lasting impression. If there are 5,000 people attending a conference, than make sure to have 6,000 marketing pieces available. People need something to remember you by, and I think it is a big mistake to not have give-aways for every person.
9. Follow Up Right Away (or appropriately)
Following up quickly after meeting someone is often the key to forming a beneficial new relationship. If you made a good impression on someone they are more apt to help you if you are still fresh in their minds. Again, I don’t suggest being overbearing, but following-up somewhat aggressively is OK if the situation lends itself to that. Keep the momentum going and remember that things do not often transpire right away!
10. Work Collaboratively With Competitors
Every business and project has competition. In my experience there is always enough work to go around if the service/product has real value, and for that reason I always cultivate a amiable relationship with competitors. If you really believe in yourself and what you are doing, having others who do the same thing can actually help you!
There you have it: How To Work a Room Like a Pro! As always, I look forward to your thoughts.
Please check out these We The Change classics, while you’re at it:
Popularity: 11% [?]