Whatever you may think about targeted networking, it is an imperative business development tool in the arsenal for those looking to expand their network, cultivate productive business relationships to lead to paying clients.
Before your next networking event, consider the checklist below to ensure you are firing on all cylinders to advance your business.
1. Plan Ahead
_____ Bring more business cards than you think you will need.
_____ Request to see registration list in advance of event.
_____ For women, plan to wear an outfit that has pockets and a lapel (for business cards and a nametag).
2. Mind Your Manners
______ When you meet someone, reach out and extend a warm handshake. Don’t wait for them to
reach out to you.
______ Leave the vice grip handshake at home. Firm and strong is one thing, but showing your strength
with a clamp is not.
______ Don’t assume women cannot handle a firm handshake. Wimpy, half-handed, shake-the-fingers-
not-the-whole-hand handshakes can actually make you look bad, and are even irritating to
______ Make it a practice to keep eye contact with your networking partner. Avoid the temptation of
Looking around the room to see who else is there; don’t insult your speaking partner by looking
over his/her shoulder.
3. Carry Your Business Cards
______ If you have two pockets, use them.
______ Put new cards in one pocket. Put your cards in the other, not in a card case, but so you can
grab one quickly.
______ Bring enough cards so you never have to say you only brought a couple, and you’re out.
______ Don’t ask for someone’s card if you aren’t interested to follow up after the event.
______ Don’t hand someone your card if she is showing an obvious lack of interest.
______ Actually look at the card you receive. Is there some bit of information that you are curious enough about to ask a question?
______ Keep a pen in one of your pockets, and always try to write a note about where you met that person, what was significant about that meeting or that person, and any follow-up you think might be useful.
4. Be Bold With Your Badge
Name badges are interesting pieces of equipment. Some come with lanyards that lie flat, or not, and some don’t. Some are too long. Some have safety pins. Some get lost and become the topic of conversation.
______ Make it easy for everyone to see your name.
______ Don’t force people to look at your chest or abdomen to see your name, firm, company or city.
______ If your badge is too long, shorten the lanyard in back so your badge is higher.
______ Put backup business cards in the back of the pouch so you don’t have to say you didn’t bring enough.
5. Go with the WallFlower
______ Approach the lonely-looking person in the room, the person standing by him- or herself. That
person may be a reluctant networker and will undoubtedly be happy to have someone to talk to.
______ Don’t put pressure on yourself to have X number of conversations or to collect a certain quantity of business cards. Fewer, richer conversations are better than lots of quick and forgettable ones.
______ Think of your conversation-starter as a friendly, informal interview. “So, what brings you here this evening?” is pleasant.
______ Keep your focus on your conversation partner, and additional questions will easily spring to mind.
______ “Are you originally from here?” If you hate the dreaded “So, what do you do in your work?” you can spend half an hour learning about your acquaintance’s life history, interests outside of work, favorite places to travel, and so much more. If a conversational spark develops, you can follow it wherever it leads.
7. Get Nice With Notes
_____ Within 48 hours following an event, write a handwritten note to thank the persons of “most” interest. Taking the time to make this a practice will yield great rewards of engendering goodwill with prospects and new referral sources.
_____ Make sure you remind the note recipient how and where you met. It is challenging to remember everyone after a networking event, and this will help.
_____ The note doesn’t have to be long. Tell the individuals you met that you enjoyed your discussion about xyz, and would love to stay in touch. This takes about a minute.
8. Be a Relationship Reminder
_____ Never expect people to remember where they met you. You may be one of dozens of people they will meet at a networking event.
_____ Look at the note you wrote on their business card, and tell them how you met.
_____ If you invite them to connect on LinkedIn, tell them how they know you.
9. Calendar Your Contact
Building relationships takes time, so it is important to remind yourself to follow up.
_____ When you’ve met someone with whom you’d like to continue to connect, add them to your CRM system, your database or whatever you use.
_____ Decide what kind of frequency of contact would be of useful to you and the other person. Be consistent in following up.
_____ Schedule automatic reminders to get in touch with this person based on the frequency you have chosen.
_____ Vary your communication. One time you may forward an article of interest, another a phone call about an event of interest, and so on.
_____ When you can tell this relationship is no longer valuable, either lengthen the time between contact, or cancel the reminders.
By using the tips above, you will be more than prepared to enjoy socializing at the same time you are sowing valuable seeds for critical business relationships via targeted networking.
Did you find this checklist helpful? The Rainmaker Roadmap contains additional step-by-step guides and innovative strategies for building a prosperous business. Click the link below to order your copy of the Rainmaker Roadmap!