NOTE: This is the second installation of my December blog series focusing on the top goals that the entrepreneurs in my community are focusing on as they plan for 2016.
Networking is nothing short of an endurance sport. In fact, I view it as the long-slow distance workout of sales. It requires both training, strategy and mindset shifts to do it adeptly. And let’s be honest. … It’s not exactly relaxing, is it? I find that just trying to read name tags can be tough, let alone coming up with handy little mnemonic tricks to remember names and occupations.
Just like with an endurance sport, I have to train to do well at a networking event. In the active outdoor lifestyle markets, January marks the high season of networking, which basically means I’m currently training for a marathon. … We’ve got Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and SnowSports Industries of America’s trade show in one month!
As a motivated entrepreneur, I know that networking is not optional and I want you to adopt this belief as well. Networking gives us the opportunity to practice our elevator pitch and also to meet people we can help and who can help us too (in that order).
Now’s a great time to start training for your networking adventures on the horizon. Why? Well, it’s the holidays and you can practice your networking amongst friends in a festive social setting, wink wink. Consider these practice events. …
When you’re ready to head out to a real-live event without mistletoe and booze, you’ll need to get your “kit” together. …
- Perfect and practice your elevator pitch
- Make sure you’ve got your business cards, etc.
- Get in the right headspace (happy, happy, joy, joy!)
- Brush up on some current events, especially as they relate to your area of specialization
- Make sure your fly is zipped!
- Make a deal with yourself – set a goal for how many new connections you’ll make at the event
Okay, once you’re all set, deploy these three fail-proof tips that I use when I am getting ready to sell myself (and my business) to other people at events of all sizes:
- Breathe and Relax- I take a moment to collect myself before heading into the room. I also take a breath and get centered before I launch into my elevator pitch. People respond really well when you speak confidently about what you do, and even more so when you’re excited about it! Have fun with this. …
- Be an Active Listener – Practice in the moment and really connecting with the people you’re meeting. Nothing’s worse than talking with someone about what you do and seeing that person looking over your shoulder continuously trying to identify the next conversation their going after. Focus in on who you’re speaking with completely. Listen first, then share who you are and what you do.
- Practice Strong Follow up – Once you’re done with the conversation, take a minute to jot down some notes on the back of the person’s card who you just met to remind you of the focus points of the conversation. Doing so will enable you to do genuine follow up once you’re back at the office, which will be memorable. This is one area where you can really solidify your personal impression on those you met, trust me! So many people forget to follow up and say thank you. … Doing so goes a long way.
How about you? I’d love to hear what your goals are for expanding your network in 2016. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.