Updated: Apr 26
This is repurposed from my events with the Christian Business Council... Way back in the day - but still relevant for us to use at conferences like the GPC on 4/19!
Be prepared. Preparation trumps rejection. Have enough cards – at least 50. If you have collateral, keep it small and easy to put in a pocket. Super hint: Have blank cards for people who are not prepared. That way they have no excuse for giving you their information.
Don’t be offensive. Don’t eat onions, garlic or Doritos. Eat mints. Don’t use bad language, off color stories or denigrate others. You don’t know who you are talking to or who they know.
Don’t hang out with people you know. Your friends and colleagues already know who you are and what you do. Find someone new to talk with and go and do it.
Act successful. Look like someone they want to do business with and act like someone who is worth doing business with. Be confident in you. If you are nervous, it’s OK to let someone know. Chances are they will be more than happy to make you feel at ease.
FILO (First In, Last Out). First in means get there early and get the lay of the land. See if you can help people who are working at the event, make sure to socialize with them. Chances are they know some pretty cool people and can help you make connections so ask them who you need to meet before you leave. Last out means don’t stop until they kick you out. You will be amazed how many great relationships start at the end of the event because there are not a lot of people interrupting or vying for your prospect’s time.
Stalking is good. Know the key players you want face time with and watch for them. Super Hint: Use your phone to help with names of people, their company and even photos of your key targets. If you are brand new and don’t know anyone, ask the people who are running the show to introduce you to their president/director etc. Make sure you introduce yourself to people of influence- keynote speakers, Association Executive Directors and board members. Make sure to ask them who else they think you just have to meet before you leave.
Act as if. Act as if you are good friends already. This is a huge mindset shift for most people but probably one of the best ways to put people at ease. Don’t get excited and start selling the big wig prospect- they absolutely hate that. Don’t let them intimidate you either. Remember, they are there for a reason just like you, to build good business relationships. By the way, they put their pants on the same way in the morning.
Listen and learn. Whether they can articulate what they do passionately or not. Help others give you information that will help you help them. Ask them what they do better than anyone else. Ask them who their best customers are. Ask them who a good prospect or lead is. Even if they don’t know, help them with examples until you find one. Write cliff notes on their cards.
Help others first. Introduce the person you just met to someone else- especially ones of influence. Leverage all relationships for introductions. Did you know that you can do this even if you don’t know either person? You bet you can. Guess who gets the brownie points? You do. In fact, you look like a real connected person when you do this.
Ask them “can get selfish for a minute?” This phrase has an amazing effect on the conversation. First, it reinforces that up until that point, you were all about them. Second, it draws people in to a very focused; incredibly influence able state of mind. Tell them what you do and ask them for their help. Keep it informational and keep it short and sweet. DO NOT PITCH THEM. Ask them “would I be too forward/ambitious to ask if we can get together next week to see if there is a fit with your company?” Once you get the commitment, ask them “besides you, who do you know in this room who would even care about what I do?”
Try these next time you are in a group. You will be amazed at how effectively you can learn about others (which helps you quantify if they are a good prospect) and let others know about you. Remember, if you prove to be a good evangelist for someone else, you will find others to be a good evangelist for you!
More on effective business networking...
Networking for the Fearful