Having trouble using networking to grow your business? Do you find it hard to meet people at business events? Are you a “wall flower” at networking functions? It doesn’t have to be that hard. Use these 3 strategies at your next industry get together, and you’ll be growing your network in no time. The best part…You probably already learned all this in High School, or the singles scene shortly thereafter!
I should preface this by saying the great part about business to business marketing, at least until our robot overlords completely takeover is that it really is all about the people! Talking to people and having real conversations is the best way to create meaningful long lasting relationships. Then, the business will come because as the saying goes, people like doing business with people they like!
So, on to the 3 strategies I use to network, that have served me for the last twenty years.
- The Wing-Man. Or Wing-Person, as we probably should call it now. When going to an event. Find somebody you know and team up. Heck, even bring somebody with you. You can call them a friend, an accountability buddy, or even a crutch! Just make sure there is someone else you know at the event, that is willing to meet people with you. There is safety in numbers. You already know this! It’s the same way you traveled around your high school dance with either your best buddy, or closest girlfriend. Now, as you go around the room, bring your friend with you. From here you can go one of two ways. First, you can be the initiator of the conversation. You start a conversation, then shortly into the conversation you say “Hey, do you know my friend John?” Now you both have been introduced. Or, you can use your friend as the REASON for the introduction. Approach somebody you don’t know, and say “Hi, I wanted to introduce Jane, I think you two could help each other”. The beauty of this approach is the end result is 3 people now know each other. Hey! You’ve just created a network!
- The Drive-By. You know this one too. Remember at the football pep rally when you saw that cute guy near the hot chocolate? Same principle here. Find someone you want to talk to, near the exhibit table, or the bar. Casually walk up and say “Hi, I’m Steve, I was headed to the Vendor area, care to join me?” Sometimes the answer is “Yes! I was just about to go myself!”. Of course, sometimes the answer is “No”, but you have still planted the seed of the introduction. Which brings me to strategy number 3.
- The Mole. This sounds sinister, I know, but really it’s not. This is the equivalent of having your girlfriend pass the “do you like Mary” note to a boy in class. I’m sure you have done this at parties already. You pick a colleague, probably somebody who you already know has connections at a certain a event, and send them on a reconnaissance mission! Again, there are a few ways to play this one. First, just have your “Mole” warm up the crowd. Tell jokes, ask about the kids, the dog etc. Then after a few minutes, you come bursting in and your friend introduces you. Another way to approach this is for your friend to actually talk you up (again high school dance!) They say “I was just talking to my friend Dave, and I think He’d be a GREAT partner for you!”. Finally, you combine strategy number 2 and use The Drive-By here. Your friend is working the crowd, everybody is laughing. You casually breeze by and say “Hey Kristen, looks like you are having a blast, anybody need a drink?” Now, you may have just added 5 new people to your network!
All of these strategies are simple ways to help with your confidence at networking events, and can greatly increase your business contacts. I have used these for years to wonderful results. The best part? You already know them? You probably learned them in High School!