How To Grow Your Influence With These 8 Networking Tips
I recently attended a networking event to get the creative juices flowing and to continue to expand my network.
I’ve been going to conferences and attending events more consistently over the last 4 years.
I’ve done so many variations when it comes to proactively networking, such as:
…meet as many people as you can, ask questions during Q&A, don’t ask questions, approach the speakers directly after, email the speakers, etc.
Below, are the 8 steps that I follow every time as my own personal networking template:
1 - Do your research on the speakers, panelists and subject matter
Whether you planned to attend ahead of time or booked last minute, take the time to do some research about the speakers/panelists. Find out what their backgrounds are, see if there are any common areas of interest that overlap with yours, etc. Information is currency at networking events.
2 - Make it a goal to connect with a minimum 5 people, depending on time
The reason I say 5 is because you want conversations of substance. You don’t want to run around and collect business cards and remember nothing about these people. You don’t want to introduce yourself and move on to the next person. Sometimes you can really get into great conversation with someone, but make it a priority to connect with at least 5 different people.
3 - LISTEN to what the speakers/panelists are saying
Put the phone away and limit your distractions and just listen to what is being said. It may be the key to taking your business to the next level, or maybe the subject matter is something that you can pass along to a friend or colleague and really help someone out.
You’re not done there though. Actively listening to what is being said will provide context or help add more depth to the question you are going to ask.
4 - Ask a thoughtful question that makes you stand out
This to me is the most important out of all the 8 steps. It’s important on a few fronts and I’m going to share why.
a) When you ask a question, make sure you are standing up so everyone can get to see you. You are going to introduce yourself, what industry you are in/company you work for and share what you are currently working on (Ex. ‘Hey, thanks so much for sharing such valuable information this evening, it’s really beneficial. My name is Andrew Bilak, I am a SaaS co-founder and we help Networking Marketing Representatives exponentially grow their business through Messenger Marketing. This question is for….’) The reason you do this is because if everyone can see you and everyone knows your name and what you do, you literally just put out an open invitation for anyone in the room to approach you after. Someone in the room may be looking exactly for what you have to offer, or they may have questions, or they may know someone that they want to introduce you to, the upside is tremendous. Even if you’re introverted or terrified of public speaking, it’s really important that you ASK. A. QUESTION :)
b) You ask a question because you want the speakers/panelists to be aware of who you are. Especially if you ask a thoughtful question, you will stand out from the crowd and make you very approachable.
5 - Network with attendees/panelists after
Now that the room knows who you are, stick around after and speak with the panelists to build rapport and connect with more people. I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me after I ask a question and say ‘hey, you’re the guy with the SaaS company working with Networking Marketing Reps? I’m in the same space OR I’m actually in need of what you offer OR I have a friend that would love to talk to you, etc.’ So stick around and keep connecting with people.
6 - Follow up with panelists post-event
Keep the relationship going. You might think of additional questions after the event is over that you want to ask. Even if you don’t have questions, send them an email, DM, etc, and just thank them again for the information. Make sure you mention who you are (I’m the guy who asked the question about….) that will jog their memory.
7 - Write down the names of people you met, what they do and what you talked about
It’s so easy to forget what Jane did or what company Mike works at. As soon as I finish a conversation with someone that I think is worthwhile following up with I open the Notes app on my iPhone and write down their name, what they do, what we spoke about and why I want to follow up with them. Don’t waste good opportunities to lazy mistakes, write it all down.
8 - KEEP IN TOUCH (you never know where opportunities come from)
Reach out to your new connections. Just because you can’t ‘fit’ them into how you can mutually benefit from this new connection, be sure to cultivate the relationship over time because you never know what opportunities will arise in the future. I find it best to touch base with your network at least once a quarter. Make sure your interaction is one of substance. Send them an email with a link to an article that’s based on what they are working on, or industry info or offer to connect them with someone in your network that could help them out. Give, give, give
I hope you found this valuable. There is no right or wrong way to network, I’ve just found a system that works well for me.
In the spirit of Networking, I’d love to connect with you. Don’t hesitate to comment below or reach out!