There’s a ton of value in attending events and networking with people, but like most things, there are right and wrong ways to go about making new connections.
Have you ever attended a networking event and felt unsure about how to connect with people you didn’t know?
There’s so much potential for you to meet like-minded people, as well as find amazing opportunities. But, you need to make sure that you’re doing what you can to ensure that you make a great and memorable impression.
There are plenty of strategies out there that you can apply for making the most out of your networking experience.
I’m going to share 4 of my favorite tips and hacks with you.
#1 Wear Your Brand
I wore my bright orange ShipChain t-shirt to a networking event that I recently attended because I knew that doing so could lead to some new opportunities.
So many people approached me – about 30 people at this particular event.
Some of them were people who were interested in potential partnerships and collaborations, some people that had invested in ShipChain, and others were people that were just interested in learning more about it.
An insane amount of traction came from wearing a simple t-shirt.
When you attend an event and don’t need to get really dressed up, try wearing a t-shirt that has the name of your company on it. This little hack sparks curiosity and gives you a starting point for opening up conversations.
The best part about wearing your brand is that you stand out, so you’re getting people to come directly to you instead of having to approach them.
This creates a different dynamic so that you’re having a regular peer-to-peer conversation rather than someone coming up, throwing you a business card, and pitching you.
#2 Don’t Wait To Connect
If I really want to connect further and have a conversation with someone after an event, I’ll just cut straight to the chase and get their number or have them send me a text.
By doing this, you can get to someone right away instead of digging through emails or saying, “Hey, find me on Facebook,” or “Connect with me on LinkedIn!”
I’ll typically give my phone to the person I’m talking to and have them put in their information. Otherwise, I’ll just give them my number directly and then they can feel free to text me.
I admit, I don’t carry around a business card anymore because if I really want to get someone’s contact information I’m not going to waste any time.
Business cards often end up getting lost, and if you really want to connect with someone it’s easy to send a quick text.
Also, I typically save the person’s name in my phone along with where I met them so that I won’t forget.
When you start networking with many different people, it’s really helpful to thoroughly keep track of the connections you make.
#3 Listen And Learn
There’s one major mistake I notice so many people making when networking at events. They talk so much about their business and what they’re doing, which is great, but they aren’t taking the time to listen.
People like to share more about themselves, so what I like to do is listen.
I take the time to hear more about someone’s business, and then after listening, I can come at the conversation from a much better angle.
Once I know about them, their business, and their interests, I can then find the things that I understand, relevant topics that I have expertise in, or something that we have in common.
Now, when I communicate back with that person, I can relate with them in some way. A connection in business is more likely when the people involved can relate to one another.
So, when you’re going to a networking event, remember to listen and not talk too much about yourself.
You wouldn’t believe the people that will talk for 10 minutes about their business, without giving you the time of day to say a word. It can’t be a conversation if there’s no back and forth dialogue.
#4 Stop Pitching, Start Helping
I was having a conversation with a Forbes contributor at a recent networking event, and so many people came up to pitch their businesses.
I said, “You know, if people are smart, they will learn to not pitch you and instead find ways that they can help you.”
When going up to any contributors, podcast hosts, etc., don’t just pitch them on a great idea you have that they should feature you for.
If you don’t pitch your own business, but instead find a way to help a contributor, chances are that they will eventually come and get a story from you without you having to ask.
You have to be willing to play the long game, so stop trying to go for the quick wins.
Listen, learn more about people, and find ways that you can genuinely help them. In return, they will be much more open to the idea of helping you.
Try applying these 4 tips at the next networking event that you attend. Be yourself, stand out from the crowd, and go make some powerful connections. Opportunity awaits you!