All to often, people make time to attend networking events and work happy hours in expectation of attaining a new client or other immediate gains. We’ve attended our share of networking events and understand how critical these conversations can be for an emerging entrepreneur. So, we wanted to take the time to walk through how you can unleash your networking potential to make the most out of your networking efforts.
This is a long-term project. The first thing you must understand is that gaining referrals and new clients does not happen overnight. You can’t meet someone for the first time and then expect him or her to give you a referral the very next day. Make sure you attend these events with the mindset that you’re planting seeds for the future. All it takes is some new connections and business cards – what you get out of them depends on what you do after the networking event has passed. In other words, your job is not over just because the event is.
Frequency matters more than reach. When you’re at a networking event, it’s easy to pass out business cards and shake hands with everyone you meet. But to be effective, you must understand that quality is more important than quantity. In fact, going for quantity can actually work against you. In order to reach your desired outcome from your networking efforts, you must follow up and build relationships with your newly made contacts. It is vital that you stay in touch – this doesn’t have to be complicated, just let them know that you’re there and you’re interested in what they have to say.
Be positive, set a goal. If you’re dreading attending an event and are simply doing it because you feel like you have to – you will stick out like a sore thumb. Make the most out of the experience and set a goal for yourself. Walk into the event with the mindset that you will meet and connect with just three people. And when we say “connect,” we mean truly taking the time to listen and understand what they are saying. This will be the material you use in your follow-ups, so take it easy on the cocktails.
Remember, you get out what you put in. Networking is the common denominator in all entrepreneurs who have made it to the top – so do not underestimate this powerful tool. Get up, get out there, and unleash your networking potential.