The right professional contacts can help you grow your business and open the door to exciting opportunities. One of the most effective ways to build your network of business contacts is through attending regular networking events.
If you are new to networking or simply out of practice, walking into a room (or Zoom) full of people can feel daunting. Introducing yourself is the first step. The balance is in letting the other person know what you and your business are all about, without coming across as overly self-promotional.
Here are a few tips on how to make a great first impression at your next All1Network event.
1. Make genuine connections
Networking events are a bit like going on a date, and similar rules apply. Don’t take over the conversation. People want to feel that you are genuinely interested in them. Ask questions to help you get to know the other person, understand what they do and how you could help them. With authentic personal connections, potential business opportunities become clear.
2. Be friendly
It is easier to connect with someone who appears open and welcoming. In turn this makes you and your business more memorable. Smile. Ask open ended questions before talking about yourself. This will go a long way towards creating a positive first impression.
3. Listen and make useful contributions.
When joining a group of people, take a few minutes to listen to the conversation. Observe with the aim of contributing a useful point to the conversation when appropriate, rather than jumping straight to you and your work.
4. Be yourself
The best approach for any networking event is to simply be yourself. When discussing your business try to share, not pitch a sale. Before attending, do a bit of homework on who will be in the room. Try to connect with people who are relevant to you and your industry so that you can focus your energy and leave feeling like you have had a productive meeting.
5. Come prepared
The best conversations feel effortless. Be prepared with questions that will help you to learn more about the people you meet. Interesting conversations based on what you learn will make it easier for you to share more about yourself and your business when it’s appropriate.
6. Bring a friend
It can feel easier to attend an event with someone you already know. You can meet people together and help each other out in the conversation. It is sometimes hard to talk about yourself and your accomplishments, but your colleague can do that for you and vice versa.
7. Be curious
People love talking about themselves. Asking a thoughtful question will put others at ease, show that you are interested and give you a chance to demonstrate your listening skills. The more interested you are in others, the more interesting you appear.
8. Introduce yourself with an interesting anecdote
We all have one story that demonstrates what we do in a light hearted manner. Make your introduction personal. People will see that you are genuine and feel relaxed.
9. Learn how you can help each other
Networking is a great way to build new connections, but try not to come across as too self serving. Be genuine, ask questions and begin each conversation thinking ‘How can I help this person?’ Something as simple as offering to make an introduction to an existing contact goes a long way in making a positive first impression. But make sure that you can follow through on any promises otherwise you will appear unreliable.
10. Forget agendas, simply aim to make friends
Networking events can be intimidating, awkward and stressful. If you behave with the obvious intention of getting a set number of new leads or giving out X number of business cards you will only succeed in making people feel uncomfortable. One of the most helpful bits of networking advice we can give you is: Be yourself. Relax. Go with the intention of making a few new friends. And enjoy yourself!