Top Networking Event Tips
December 13, 2018
With the HLH Holiday Networking Party just around the corner I thought I would take a moment to go over a few points that can help anyone have a successful networking event. Networking events are really interesting. Over the past 15 years I have met many contacts in Asia and around the world. Some I have done business with but the majority of them I have never done business with…yet. The interesting thing is that many of these same contacts end up being friends and that is how I know that I am having successful networking events.
Because if you are going to networking events and coming away with friends then you know that you are being yourself and being genuine, which are both a big part of giving a great first impression. For business contacts, a great first impression goes a long way to establishing trust for potential future collaboration. Below are the 3 things that I focus on when attending any networking event.
Digital is the new normal, but business cards still rock – If I could only pick one way to connect with someone at an event it would still be exchanging business cards. Why do I feel this way?
- Despite digital being the home of social media, exchanging business cards is simply a better social experience that is often accompanied with the shaking of hands to start a more personal connection. Plus we all live online all the time, so live in the physical world when the opportunity presents itself, not looking at your smartphone will help people feel you are valuing the time you are spending with them.
- After a trade show or a networking event I find it easier to look at business cards while writing follow up emails, even if I am also connected to the people digitally. A modern day business card generally has all contact details at a glance, including online handles. It is not just for logistical reasons that I prefer looking at business cards while following up but more importantly for the reasons below.
- The most important reason that I prefer a tangible business card? It is a little trick I learned over 20 years ago. If I meet you and we exchange business cards, while still talking to you I will look at your card and then your face and continue back and forth. This helps me to imprint your face onto your company name and/or logo on your business card. I can look at business cards from 15 years ago and still remember the persons face. In many cases I can still remember the details of the conversation I had with that person. Plus, your business card likely has some keywords that describe you or your companies skills that help to keep a conversation going. Also, the back or front of a business card is for taking notes, these notes are also visual cues to help recall encounters in even greater depth. I will generally make a couple of quick bullet point notes on a business card after speaking with anyone. It is a good trick, try it the next time you are at an event.
Just be yourself and be positive – Most networking events are a lot less formal than other business settings. So be yourself, have a drink, and relax. But at the same time don’t loosen so much that you are slamming tequila shots in front of potential customers or business partners (I am referring to Vegas 1997, don’t do that). Find a balance that matches the tone of the event you are at.
Be positive and most importantly bring a smile. That same disarming smile that you share with your friends and family. It will go a long way to opening doors for you. When I network with people and look to collaborate it is not just the fact that you have X, Y, or Z skills that makes me want to work with you. I am also checking to see if you are a positive person who I believe can help solve problems when they arise. Someone who I believe sees a business relationship as a two way street.
Make a clear representation of your company and your skills – I have been to too many events where I have met people who completely misrepresent what they can do which results in a lot of wasted time following up trying to qualify people who are impossible to qualify for the project I have in mind. A very long time ago (when I was young) I would say, “yes, I can do that” to just about every opportunity that came my way. Thinking, I will figure out how later. Every time I did this it simply led to problems where I would get in over my head.
Saying you are great at CAD when you are already very well versed in CAD is OK because you likely have enough knowledge to push yourself to the needed level of expertise to complete a job. Saying you are great at CAD just because you have software installed on your computer will only bring you and your contacts future misery. People appreciate when you simply make an honest representation of your skill sets, plus, you really don’t want to take on tasks that you are fundamentally unqualified to complete, it will only bring you problems. At a networking event you have no idea what skills someone is looking for, you have no idea what cool projects are floating around that room, so don’t try to bluster, instead highlight the skills that you are really great at. Chances are that someone in the room needs someone with the skills are are actually really good at.
If you combine a positive attitude with a bit of honesty and just be genuine, you will lay the foundations of trust and come away with a lot of contacts. A great result for any networking event. If you also use my business card trick you will recall your contacts and conversations in greater detail, which will ultimately help you collaborate better in the future and win business. If you are joining HLH for the networking party have a great time on Saturday 🙂
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