Here are helpful tips for business owners in helping your employees navigate networking/business events:
- Networking events, business mixers, grand openings, etc. are an extension of the workplace and, really, the workday, so your behavior should be as professional and unimpeachable at the event as it is during the day at the office.
- Don’t get drunk or have too many drinks! There has never been an instance where having one too many drinks in front of peers, prospects, your boss or co-workers has helped someone’s career or business image. It’s best not to drink at all. be sure to check your companies code of conduct.
- For an interesting research study entitled What Really Happens at Mixers, check out the research study from the Columbia Business School.
- Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, understand what you are there to do. Is your goal to feel out a new organization and get to know the vibe? Is it to meet ten new people? Is it to meet three our four specific people? These are all reasonable expectations and it takes a little pre planning to set these goals.
- Don’t be a card spammer. The closest thing to you throwing all of your business cards away is handing them out to anyone and everyone you meet without them asking. If you haven’t built enough rapport with someone to encourage them to ask for your card, don’t offer one.
- Take notes. When you ask for someone’s card after having a great conversation, take notes on their business card after they walk away or immediately after the event. This will help you to be more specific in your follow-up
- Introduce yourself to the organizer. A great way to get to know more about an organization and who is involved is to seek out the event organizer and introduce yourself. He/she can then help point you in the right direction and can introduce you to other attendees to get you off on the right foot
- Treat people like friends. Would you go to a friend, interrupt his/her conversation, hand over a business card, talk about yourself and then walk away? Of course not. Treat new networking relationships as you’d treat your friendships. Build rapport and trust that business will happen.
- Ask great questions. The only way to get to know someone else is to ask them genuine and thoughtful questions. It’s always best to walk away from a conversation having allowed the other person to speak more than you did. Not only will they feel great about the conversation, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about him/her, helping you plan and execute your follow-up more thoughtfully
- Consider their network. When meeting people, it’s important to remember that even if they can’t help you directly, someone in their network probably can.
- Treat connecting like a puzzle. If you’re asking great questions and considering how you can help others, you’ll naturally start to draw connections between who you are talking to and others in your network. Offer to make these connections. Perhaps they are two people who have the same target client industry, or maybe you know that a contact of yours is looking for the service the other provides. Encourage both parties to follow up with you after they meet so you can hear what came of their interaction. It will not only pay dividends for you, it will also help you hone your matchmaking skills.
- Do NOT “work the room.” Don’t try to meet as many people as possible in a room; focus on making just a few solid connections. People can sense when you’re simply speaking with them to grab their card and go. These short interactions will not be memorable and work against you. Aim to meet a few people and begin a meaningful dialogue.
- Don’t be afraid to join in. There is nothing wrong with joining a conversation and waiting for a natural break in the chatter to introduce yourself. In most cases, the people who are already speaking will enjoy the interruption because it gives them a chance to meet someone new. If you sense that you’ve entered into a serious discussion, it’s OK to politely excuse yourself.
Is The Event Worth Your Employees Time and Effort.
Here are a few questions to ask your employee:
Here are a few questions to ask your employee:
- What is ratio between friends and strangers? Are their lots of new faces at each event or is it mostly regulars?
- What is the balance between business owners and persons wanting to sell you something?
- Does it feel like a party or a networking event? Are their clicks of friends or people only eating and drinking?
- Did you have the opportunity to strengthen an existing relationships with current customers in a meaningful way?
- How many people in the room are qualified prospects for your business? How many follow-up visits did you complete?
- How many people attended the event?
- Is the squeeze worth the juice: This will be an eye-opener! Don't just track the amount of time for the actual event or meeting. Add the amount of prep, travel and recovery (yes, recovery!) time needed. This additional time can balloon your networking time exponentially. Is their more productive things you can be doing?