30 Aug Five Principles of Face-to-Face Networking
FIVE PRINCIPLES OF FACE-TO-FACE NETWORKING
Tech has taken over! It’s easy to forget the importance of good old traditional human contact when networking. With all the hype over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, most small businesses are under pressure to be online 24 hours a day. Yet, one of the most effective ways to network is still face-to-face! Remind yourself of these following five principles when you go to your next schmoozathon and you’ll be the life of the party.
Quality Not Quantity
Networking at industry events should never be viewed as a numbers game. Small businesses and industry professionals who race around trying to gather as many business cards as possible are forgetting the most important aspect of networking – human connection. I strongly believe that establishing a genuine connection with a handful of people (even just one) will benefit you much more than getting into the face of dozens.
Think of it as similar to dating – ask questions, listen and get to know your colleagues or potential consumers. You may not gel with everyone. That’s okay. You don’t always have to aggressively target the people you feel you “should” know. Being relaxed, friendly and genuine will make you much more memorable.
Giving Not Getting
I have been really touched by a handful of people I met at events who went out of their way to help me for no reason at all. They either introduced me to friends of theirs or sent me information about a topic of conversation we were discussing. They asked for nothing in return, and as a result they instantly remain memorable. This made me realize that by focusing on what you can give, rather than what you can get, will lead to more valuable relationships in the long-run.
Everyone is Equal
We’ve all seen it hundreds of times before – those people whose eyes glaze over when they realize that the person they are talking to is “not important enough.” Sure, we all have agendas, and time is money, but mental hierarchies are presumptuous and arrogant. It is not fair to disqualify someone and their work just because they are not “valuable” to you in the moment. You should always view everyone as equally worthy. Remember the proverb “great oaks from little acorns grow.”
Photo Credit: Amplifier Foundation, Brooke Fischer
No one likes a small business owner who aggressively shoves their elevator pitch in your face. However, being prepared with a short pitch and business cards is a must. You just need to ensure that your timing is right. Use your judgement, be courteous, humble and realistic. Always remember the basics too – ensure that your marketing materials are striking, brand-consistent, and readable!
The Art of The Follow Up
We all know how important it is to follow up, but think carefully about how you are going to do it. I find it frustrating when someone tries to friend me on Facebook without as much as a message to reconnect. However you decide to follow up, try to make it as personal as possible – a chatty email re-introducing yourself or a shout-out on Twitter. Even better, go old school and send a hand-written note or put in a phone call! Think it through and make it worthwhile.
Pro-Tip: Social media can still be used as a great tool for in-person networking. Search Facebook events, local Facebook groups, and Instagram hashtags for upcoming events that might be beneficial to your business!
With all this in mind, get networking!