Tips to Real Life Networking

nametagWhether it’s a tweetup, meetup or niche group, there’s nothing quite like real life networking. Person-to-person interaction helps put a real face to an avatar and adds some humanity to an e-mail address.

I personally am a huge advocate of meetups and enjoy it as way of making new business connections. Though, I don’t claim to be an expert, I can offer up some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Always have your business card ready and in a convenient place
Trying to dig/find your business card for five minutes may ruin the flow of a good conversation.

Make sure you have business cards separated/organized
If  you are at a function where you are exchanging a lot of business cards, make sure you have two designated piles; yours versus the ones you are receiving. You don’t want to give a new contact someone else’s business card…

Make sure your conversation is give and take
Sure, you want to tell someone what you are all about, but make sure you listen to what they have to say. Reciprocity my friend.

Personal space
If  someone seems preoccupied while you are talking to them and they seem to want to move on, let them. Give them their space.

Don’t make an ass of yourself
Sure, having a drink or two is fine but getting hammered in front of potential business associates… not so much. Know when to say when.

What are your tips?
What are your tips? Please leave a comment and share.

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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3 Responses

  1. Great tips, Sarah! Here’s what I have to add:

    Be ruthelssly efficient.

    If your goal is to get new business, don’t waste too much time with the chit chat. Go with a plan. If possible, know in advance who you’d like to talk to and target them.

    Treat it like speed-dating. Get to know people – and be genuinely interested – but after 5 minutes, if it’s apparent there’s no business opportunity, politely move along.

  2. I think one of the challenges is to know the space in which you are working. For example, if you are at a networking event as someone in either the advertising or web development field and there is a lot of direct competition (other developers/designers/agency reps) in the same room, my advice is that rather that be the fourth or fifth “web designer” that someone (who may only be a marginal prospect) meets at the event, make the effort to connect on ANOTHER level. Probe quickly and tactfully for a way to connect in SOME other way. Develop an early stage relationship that you can build upon later that will set yourself apart. Don’t be the third developer to talk about “Drupal proficiency”; be the one who finds out that the prospect’s hobby is sailing. Or fishing. Or antique collecting. And weave that knowledge tactfully into all your forward-moving conversations – which at some point could more easily turn into business.

  3. I have a slightly different approach than the other comments. I say take your time. Get to know others, offer your help, introduce them to your friends. This is my Know me, Like me, Trust me, Buy me approach. Long term you’ll be known as a trusted individual and then what ever you promote people will listen. Another thing I do is get really unique business cards. The minicard is a great one. It is smaller and can have several different designs on it. Often when I have passed my card around a table, the speaker gets ignored and my card become the center of attention. This is called a prop. I have a whole seminar dedicated to networking so for more tips come to the Social Media Breakfast where I will talk about turning Personality into Profit http://bit.ly/Ed2na (Shameless wasn’t I)

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