Are you in a business or profession that is highly people oriented? Does your job require you to regularly meet people, make friends, associates, establish and grow contacts for business development? Do you frequently attend business-networking events and have you ever wondered how to maximize networking opportunities at such events? Well, read on, this may be of some help...
The first impression lives a lasting impression, so turn up at these events, dressed nattily, oozing confidence and carry an air of self-assuredness. This goes a long way in how you will be received by your audience.
Prepare a brief introduction about your company and yourself. Keep it short and crisp. Talk in a slow and comprehensible pace. It is very important to engage the attention of your business peers. Once you have them locked onto you, you can vary the speech to suit the conversation or mood. There will probably very little time for this and you will need to be very good at speaking extempore with cheerful spontaneity. Do not worry; it is not at all embarrassing to practice speaking before a mirror in advance of a business-networking event.
Keep business cards ready, hand it out at the appropriate time, with just the right measure of eagerness. Ideally, by now, the person you are meeting should already be offering you a card or asking for yours. If your business or profession takes you across the world or even if, at home, you interact with people from different cultures, then it is quite helpful to know the manner of greeting employed by your target audience. For example, some Asian people [mostly from Japan, Korea and Singapore] have a habit of handing business cards with both hands and with a slight bow of the head. You could reciprocate the greeting with a genial smile; it makes them comfortable and can be a good start to your networking activity.
After your brief introduction, pause a second or two for a reaction. It could be a question, comment or complement. If the last, accept it graciously, if it is a question or comment, respond with ease and in a manner which furthers the conversation.
However, remember time optimization is highly essential in such events and you have to network with as many targets as possible. A friend, who is also the head of marketing at a leading consumer goods company once told me that he tries and quite often, does manage to meet at least eight out of ten people in a room. At the end of the networking event, he ensures that most of them have his business card, have had a brief interaction with him and he has established channels for future communication with them. At a proper juncture, terminate the interaction, assure to revert with details if you have not fully responded and move on to the next target.
Employ humor of the neutral, non-offensive kind in course of your interactions. This helps alleviate a boring interaction and every one (most people anyways) likes a bit of laugh.
It is a good idea to address your target audience appropriately. Do not take to calling people by their first name the very instant you get introduced. Upon returning to the office, send follow-up emails and if you have promised to send company brochures or profiles, do so immediately.
Follow this and you should be deriving maximum advantages from networking opportunities.