Networking is a timeless practice because it remains incredibly effective. Getting to know others in similar industries, or industries adjacent to yours, can result in lucrative relationships in the future. However it can sometimes be difficult to stand out from the crowd in markets that are saturated or extremely popular. However all business is good business, and with a few strategies in place beforehand you can make the most of your networking.
Introducing yourself is always the first step in making any kind of professional relationship. However at networking events it’s easy to misplace names, especially if you’re speaking with multitudes of people throughout the day. An easy way to make your name constantly visible while speaking with people is with custom name badges. Up the ante by making name badges in the shape of logos and mascots or with with your branding colours. This way people will always correlate your name with your name business, making you that much more memorable.
Work The Room
Before going to any event or meeting where you’ll network, it’s useful to do your research first. This includes brushing up on the role of the person you’re meeting with, or the company’s M.O. To maximize time at an event, research which brands you want to talk to and where they’re located in the event space. This way you can allocate extra time at the end of the day to check out anything you may have missed.
Nowadays most brands you interact have some sort of social media presence. Make it a point to look out for individuals you may have connected with at events or during meetings and comment on relevant posts with how much you enjoyed your interaction or how forward you are to learning more from them (without coming across to desperate of course). If your event or meeting is out of town, use social media to discover popular local hangouts like cafes or bookstores. This way you can easily make casual conversation and discover common interests with those you meet to enrichen any connections you make.
Anytime you network the exchange of business cards is pretty much mandatory. However, since you’ll seldom be the only person at a networking event you’ll also be competing with everyone else’s business card to secure that all important deal. To increase your business cards effectiveness, hand out one that’s unique and stands out above the rest. Create custom stickers in unique shapes and branding colours with your contact info on them. That way not only do the people you’re connecting with get a trendy freebie, they’ll be that much more inclined to connect with you for your creative thinking.
Sometimes a little act of kindness goes a long way. At the end of a meeting or interaction it’s important to thank the person you were speaking with for their time. Instead of simply thanking and walking away, thank the person for something specific. Maybe the taught you something new, or gave you a really awesome freebie. Thanking someone makes the person feel as though your interaction was meaningful and that their time was valuable to you.
Networking can be challenging, but efficient networking is all about savvy planning. Coming prepared when you’re networking establishes you as not only confident, but professional as well.