There are networking events everywhere these days and all of them have a different purpose with different types of attendees and different structures to them. You could spend every day at a networking event if you really wanted to so how do you choose which are the best fit for you? Well I always suggest asking yourself these two questions:
- Are the people I want to meet going to be at this type of networking event?
- What outcomes do I want to achieve from going?
Many people think that going to a networking event is all about selling their product and service to the others in the room (and then they get very disappointed when they leave having made no sales). But think about it for a moment. Of the 50 people going to a networking event on a given night, how many do you believe wake up going “can’t wait to attend that event to buy something.”
No, everyone there has selling on their mind. Yet people who go to networking events to sell are the ones who walk away with the least amount of sales.
So it’s time to change your thinking about networking events. They are powerful places to grow your network, find new referral partnerships and create opportunities.
How do you use a networking event to gain these benefits for you and your business?
1. Ask great questions of fellow attendees
This is the only way you can find out what their challenges are and how you can actually help them. The majority of people want to talk about themselves so you can stand out from the crowd by letting the other person talk the majority of the time while you ask questions to find out more about them. This puts you in a great position to …
2. Look to help
This sounds so simple, yet most people are looking at how they can be helped, not how they can help the other person. Focus on helping others and you will always be looked after yourself. Be listening to an attendee’s challenges, you might be able to provide a solution, (whether that be your own product or services or someone you know from your own network).
3. Focus on growing your network rather than getting new work
Finally, use networking events to simply open doors. From every networking event you should be able to grow your network by 5-10 new people. These numbers can snowball very quickly because when people see you’re someone who is willing to help, they’re more than happy to introduce you to others they know too.
So in summary, in order to be successful at networking events you need to do the following:
- Pick events that have the people you’re most wanting to connect with.
- Be clear about the outcome you want to achieve.
- Be engaging and want to help others.
- Solve other people’s problems by referring them to your network.
- Build relationships so that you can move into their networks.
If you do those five things really well you will always have more business than you can handle – and you’ll never find yourself in ‘desperate selling mode’ at a networking event ever again!
Do you have any success stories from being a ‘helper’ rather than a ‘seller’ at networking events?