Ten Tips for a Good Summer of Networking Events
Networking as Personal Branding and Advertising for your Small Business
This is summer weather and many networking activities are happening in Switzerland in the next six weeks or so, many outside or at venues that allow for outdoor conversations. Great! Go!
Your best referrals will mostly come from people you know. To find more people who will refer you will have to grow your network. A web presence is nice, but, that’s where your referrals go to “check you out” after your name has come up. A website is not usually used by clients and customers to” find” you. Well, usually that’s the case in my experience.
Thus, you need to get used to the idea of going to networking events and just start doing it. In Switzerland, there are numerous professional groups, start-up groups and meet-up groups to help you on your way. You should not forget the other options: clubs, in Switzerland called Vereins, religious organizations, and volunteerism, too.
Here are Nine Networking Ideas, plus One more
Everyone I know seems to get a little worried when they enter a room full of strangers. Even Amy Cuddy tweeted that she’s still working on it! (“Yes, I still feel socially anxious. I'm at a reception with hundreds of strangers, too nervous to introduce myself. Still working on it!”)—I recently had a conversation about the topic with a client and here’s a summary of my take on the subject, nine ideas PLUS a question, and finally, a tenth idea:
Before you go, do three things:
Choose something that really interests you and that you think you will find people with whom you can meet in a meaningful way. I would like book launches (of book topics I am interested in), presentations of startups and TEDXtalks, for example. You would also find me at some art exhibit opening. What interests you? What kind of person interests you? Go there.
Once you have chosen a venue you should do a little research. Who is going? What is the program for the event? Then, if you do this, post it on your social media. For example, I went to the Pink Ribbon Walk once and remembered to post it on social media that I am on.
Visualize yourself there having a good time. Prepare by setting your expectations realistically. How many people will you think you can manage really meeting in a meaningful way at this event? One? Two? Three? Set your limits (how long to spend doing what) and make sure you follow them. Know when you plan to leave and stick to your plans. You will be happier if you do this.
During your time there do three more things:
When you arrive (or shortly before you leave home) do the Amy Cuddy (à la book Presence) Wonder Woman Pose. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips. Stand and smile at yourself- for a good three minutes. A single-person bathroom works, for example. Do it, if possible, as soon as you arrive. This practice is research-proven and will help you feel confident about yourself. Also, if you are really interested in this practice, email me, and/or read the book.
Treat each networking event as a learning experience, not a performance. That means you are “just practicing”, “just learning”. If you do that combined with the next step, you will enjoy yourself and be able to look at these events as more and more fun.
Enjoy and Be (yourself!)
Most of the people organizing the events enjoy them or they would not do them. Remember that they try and make it enjoyable for you, the participant. Find someone you seem to “click” with, do what you enjoy. One good contact is better than ten cool ones. Maybe you can help someone out, or find someone who has a similar hoppy, or even better, passion, as you. Finally, just Relax and enjoy …
Really. Just Be Yourself.
When you are yourself you will find meaningful new relationships at the event. AND that’s the real goal: to start a new relationship with someone (maybe just one person, even) that seems to click with you. The point is not to “get as many business contacts as you can”, but to be yourself with other people who you may enjoy doing work with in the future (or maybe not work with at all), or will may be refer you one day. These people are people you try and serve somehow, a kind of “pay it forward” and introduce them to your own network. It’s all about relationship, no cliché intended. Thus, you can be wonderful self and relax and enjoy the event.
When the event is over do three more things:
Your contact lists as soon as possible- don’t keep those business cards collecting dust in the drawer, enter the information into your electronic contact list (and remember to make sure you yourself are entered into it, as well, to send and to use).
For those one two or three cool people with whom you want to keep in touch, but don’t have any specific plan yet, email them and thank them for talking with you. Leave it open for meeting, or suggest something if you like.
For those who you have already set up a meeting with, call and confirm. You can email, too, of course, but a call is more personal. Remember, these are the people with whom you hope to start a business relationship or with whom you might partner in some way in the future. They are also people you enjoy being around. Remember that follow-up is important for relationship, as well as for your business.
Practice makes better
I don’t think one ever gets perfect at this, but you do get better and hopefully learn to really enjoy your networking time. Keep practicing, keep learning, and set a goal of – one? or two? networking events a month to attend.
If you have a phobic response to this, also, maybe you need to contact me for help.
See you at the next event!
I am looking forward to seeing you at some events this summer- enjoy!
Patricia Jehle firstname.lastname@example.org