Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.
– Alexander Graham Bell
It’s the first week of September. Families have ended their summer vacations, the kids are back to school, and you’re seriously hunkering back down into work mode. And that means Networking!
But are you prepared for your next networking event? Just showing up isn’t enough. To make the most of your next networking opportunity, take a little bit of time to prepare and you’ll reap the benefits.
Selecting your event. Begin by looking at the opportunities available to you, through various local networking or chamber of commerce websites, to see which events are being held this month. Ask yourself which would be most beneficial to attend. What are your objectives for attending? Which event will meet some of those objectives? Which will host specific individuals or groups that meet your designated target market? Selecting an event that meets your objectives and target market will offer you the best prospects.
Set your goals. How many people do you want to connect with? Would like to meet and really spend time talking to only three people or do you want to ‘speed-date’ with as many people as possible? How many business cards do you plan to acquire? If you tend to stick to chatting with people you already know at large events, make a goal of how many new people you’d like to meet. Depending on your sales goals or business objectives, your networking goals may vary, so it pays to plan these out ahead of time to best prepare.
Ready yourself for discussion.
- Prepare an introduction suitable for the occasion and practice it. Have you worked on your elevator pitch lately?
- How will you approach people? Identify some appropriate conversation starters. Maybe you already have something in common with those you are about to approach, or maybe something significant happened recently in your community that is a good topic of conversation.
- Determine in advance which feature and benefit of your product or service you will introduce. You might do a lot of things really well, but you don’t want to overwhelm or confuse your new prospects. Be selective and describe one feature and benefit well.
- Fill your pockets, purse, wallet, briefcase, trunk, and glove compartment with business cards. Always have a good supply readily at hand. Don’t assume that because you’ve already given someone your card that they still have it. It could have been lost at an event or tossed out by accident when cleaning their car. Keep re-introducing yourself.
Preparing for networking events in advance will boost your confidence and help ensure that you spend your time there productively. With careful preparation, and then due diligence in following up after meeting people, you will be well on your way to being a successful networker, achieving your goals, and acquiring new prospects. Let me know how I can help you better prepare for your next networking event.