I believe that a good communicator is the sum of personality, talents, knowledge and, most important, of experience / abilities. The simple theoretical knowledge of “how do you do networking?” has an important role to play as a basis for reflex action, which later on will define a good professional. Something else that defines a professional is a method. Here are some suggestions:
1. Check the guest list
Most of the time you can not have a guest list, but when you have it, use it. Whom you should meet? Who are the guests? There are only two of the questions that will help you get better prepared.
A best way to find out more on the audience is to check out the media news content from past events. Just as simple search on the internet will help you to figure out if the event is worth it. The key note speaker can give you a clue on the profile of the audience.
2. Choose the message
The message is decided according to the list of guests and event type. It is preferable to have in your mind a clear and simple message. Think about what you want to talk about: an on-going campaign, a follow-up event or just a briefing on the organization’s projects and services. It’s very important here to get your ‘elevator pitch’ – the concise 30-second presentation in order to capture the interlocutor’s attention.
3. Quality not quantity
An important quality in conversation is to know how to listen. Nobody likes a person who over-speaks and does not know how to listen.
Make time to learn more about the other and offer your attention and interest with sincerity.
Do not forget to pay attention to the names of people and make the effort to learn them – it’s an essential skill.
4. Relationship objective
I think it is more important to develop friendship and mutual respect than to throw business cards at people. Investigate time and talk with passion about what you are doing and what motivates you. ‘Convert’ and ‘contaminate’ the audience with your passion.
If you want to evaluate yourself, ask yourself a simple question and answer honestly “How many of the people you meet will answer your phone and will be ready to gladly help you out? Or how many of them will remember your name the next day?
5. Evaluation and Follow-up
A networking evening usually ends the next day at the office. An informal team discussion is more than indicated. Who are the new supporters, how can further develop the new relationships are important points on the meeting agenda.
The evaluation is preceded by follow-up. A thank you email, a summary of the discussion or a proposal should be sent as soon as possible, preferably the next day.
If for a pertinent reason it is not possible to follow-up the next day, I recommend that you make small notations on the received business cards, these notes will be extremely useful when you try to send personal emails.
6. Linkedin them
Yes, Linkedin has a great new tool for networking that will give you the possibility to add the new connection just by scanning the QR code on their business cards. Obviously a lot of them do not have QR codes but do not miss the opportunity to connect with them in Linkedin. This is a great way to market to them in an non aggressive way or to be on their top of mind for the time they will be on the market.
Do not forget to update your business data base if you prior obtained the consent.