by Rich Horn
Today's guest blog is by my Mastermind group partner, Rich Horn. Rich presented these tips at a recent meeting and I told him he had to share them here!
For those of us that sit behind a computer all day, it can sometimes be intimidating to leave the comfort of our favorite chair and get out there and meet people face-to-face. However, in today's technology-driven society, I have found that it's more important than ever to shake someone's hand and introduce yourself in person.
So how do you do it? More importantly, how do you do it effectively? First, find an event worth attending – the more attendees the better – and register for it. Plan for the event by asking the registrar for a list of who will be in attendance and make a list of people that you'd like to meet. You will recognize their names when you arrive and will have good a starting point.
Wear something bright or colorful. There's nothing worse than attending an event and looking at a sea of professionals all in the same grey suits. Stand out from the crowd! This doesn't entail a ball gown or a Hawaiian printed sombrero, just something that is easily seen. Personally, I never wear a coat or jacket to these events and tend to wear a busy shirt so others can spot me.
Don't get overwhelmed. It can be intimidating to be in a room full of business people. Start with the list you've made and seek out those people you would like to meet. Your goal should be to collect six to eight business cards from people who could become potential clients or referral sources. If you're stuck talking to the guy who is recounting the tale of his great aunt’s knee replacement, politely excuse yourself and move on. This isn't social hour, it's networking. You are there to do business!
Seek out others that might look uncomfortable. They might be dreading the event as much as you were when you registered (remember-before you prepared for the event). Introduce yourself and make them feel that they belong in the room. You would be surprised how many business owners hate networking events!
Know your product or service. A well-developed 30-second commercial is of huge value in this situation. Again, I'm always amazed at how many business owners ramble on about their business, but can't concisely define what it is that they do for a living. How can you be expected to tell them what that is? Be prepared to deliver 30 seconds worth of good information and then stop.
Ask away. Ask your audience as many questions as possible and make mental notes on your conversation. After you're finished talking to them, jot down a couple of notes or record a voice memo so you don't forget the conversation.
Follow up with your new-found contacts. Pull out those valuable notes you made the night before and send them a hand written note. It's wonderful to receive a hand written note in today's world. Reference your conversation and try to provide them something of value.
Offer them something. Can you give them a discount to your business, provide them a qualified referral for their business, or send them a link to the article you discussed? Anything! Just give them something they can use and they'll remember you and want to return the favor.
Take time to review your efforts. Networking takes practice. It's a learned skill. Some of the shyest people I’ve ever met are incredible networkers. They understand that networking is a powerful tool to sell their services and increase their profits.
So get out there and meet some living, breathing human beings. It's fun, and you might even pick up some new business!