Converting Networking into Clients

For a lot of people networking feels like speed dating. You introduce yourself, get to know people, deliver your pitch, and before you know it, you’ve moved on and so have they. You don’t have long to make a lasting connection. That’s a lot of pressure, which is why lots of people give up or think networking “doesn’t work for them.”

I know it stresses people out, but for me, networking is completely in my comfort zone. I’ve made it into an event in my calendar that excites me and motivates me. Best of all, I’ve made it work. Really work.

I’ve been offering networking courses to help people understand that it’s not that networking doesn’t work; it’s just not working for them because they aren’t being as effective in a room as they could be. They’re extremely popular because everyone wants to be successful when they go to an event. Here are a few tips from the course that can get you started on rethinking how you’ve been networking

Come Prepared

When I say come prepared, I don’t just mean having lots of business cards, arriving on time, and dressing appropriately. Anyone can tell you that.

The best prep work has nothing to do with you and everything to do with everyone else in the room. Who is going to be there? Who are your top connections? If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you know which businesses and industries can give you the best potential for referrals and connections. Have those names ready. Make a physical list if you have to. Find out a little more about what they do so you can be direct with them once you get that introduction. This little bit of prep work will make you 1000x more productive than bouncing around from person to person asking “so, what do you do?”

Get People Talking

Once you get in the room, get an introduction to the people you had in mind and get talking. Remember this one lesson: people love to talk about themselves! Ask them some questions that go deeper than surface level. I love to ask people shocking questions because they usually react uncertainly at first, but then all the stops come out and you can learn more in 5 minutes than you might have in one hour.

Asking people intense questions about themselves takes the pressure off you to try to make small talk, and it also makes people know you genuinely care about them and that they can trust you with anything.  

Say Yes to Coffee

If you think the networking stops when you leave the event, think again! Five minutes at a networking event is not enough to make a lasting connection.

The absolute best one-on-one networking opportunities will come as an invitation to have coffee. Don’t wait for someone else to suggest it, either. Get follow-up meetings with everyone you’re interested in and book them in right then and there. Better yet, schedule some time before and after events so you can meet with people without even leaving the parking lot. 

Bring Something with You

I might love baking, but no, I’m not suggesting you bring a batch of homemade cookies to every event. If you want to bring something with you to an event that’s going to make a difference, bring a connection. Bring a potential lead or customer. Bring your own interest in someone’s services.

One of the main reasons networking works so well for me is because I’ve become known as a connector. I help people find services they need, partners to collaborate with, and other people in similar industries to connect with. It comes naturally to me now, but if you have to work a little harder at it to start, do it! It’s totally worth the time to sit down and think about which connections you can make before you go.

Own the Room

No number of tips and tricks can prepare you for getting in a room with 30-50 other people and feeling completely at ease. If you want to really amp up your confidence and feel like you can own your networking skills at any event, sign up for one of my courses. They’re just 2 hours long and you’ll be able to ask all the questions you need to.