Best Practices for Your Next Networking Event
by Niiraj R Shah & Vince Vigneri
- Wander around and look for someone you know. If you can’t find anyone, you head straight to the drinks counter and wait for someone to introduce themselves to you. Otherwise, you stand around for a while and leave early after having a few drinks.
- Make sure you never attend functions by yourself. You always drag along someone with you to give you company. If no one is willing to come with you then you don’t go.
- Turn up early and help the organisers set up. Find out from the organiser who is expected to attend and ask for some specific introductions. You also help welcome other attendees.
Q2. You’ve just made a new contact at a function. You want to make a good first impression. How do you introduce yourself?
- By your reputed profession (e.g., I’m a chartered accountant).
- By mentioning your title and which industry you are in (e.g., I’m the CEO of an I.T. company).
- In a crisp and memorable way that describes how you help people in a way that opens up a conversation.
Q3. You’ve attended a great networking function where you have collected lots of cards of potential suppliers and clients. What do you do with them?
- Give them to your secretary to sort out alphabetically and put in a card file or rolodex for future use.
- Categorize each card: a hot contact, person of interest, or not of immediate interest. Scan your cards using a card scanner and save according to profession, industry and date. Then follow up with a thank you e-mail and phone call to fix up a meeting with hot contacts and people of interest.
- Write small notes on top of each of card indicating the date and some things of interest about the person (e.g., a client they service). File for future use.
Q4: While networking you come across a potential hot prospect for your business. How would you engage them in a meaningful conversation?
- Ask the other person questions so that you better understand how you can help them. You also volunteer information about yourself and your company that you feel is relevant to helping their company. You don’t try to close a sale there, but instead try to get an appointment to meet to discuss things further.
- Proceed to tell them about you and your company. Establish your credibility by mentioning the number of years you have been in business, the infrastructure your company has, your key products and services, and well-known clients it deals with. Try to close the deal. Strike while the iron is hot!
- Ask the other person questions to get them to talk about themselves and their company. This way you find out a lot about them and their company so that you are able to utilise this vital information in any sales pitch you make.
Q5: You had a great exchange with some new contacts. Now you’re wondering how to make a graceful exit so you can meet other people. What do you do?
- Wait for a lull in the conversation and excuse yourself to go top up your drink.
- Mention that you enjoyed your chat and ask for permission to call in a day’s time when you can fix up a meeting to discuss things in more detail.
- Just mention that you’d like to meet other people and go off.