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Your experience at any networking event depends on your goal, and what you hope to accomplish. You’ll waste a lot of time if your goal isn’t clearly defined in your mind as you walk through the door. You’ll meet a bunch of lovely people whom you cannot help, and who cannot help you.
Walking into a networking event unprepared, as far as I’m concerned, is nothing more than attending a social event. And that’s fantastic, but let’s not get the two confused.
If you want to network professionally, effectively, you will want to consider the following in your preparation:
1. Are you at the correct event? This is the first question you ought to ask yourself. Does the event in question align with your immediate and/or long term goals? If not, you could be wasting your time. Speaking of which…
2. Time is the most valuable thing we own. If you want to “know” everyone in the room, you are just being, well, social. Again, that’s great! It’s also very time consuming. And how many people do you really get to know, truly, when you’re moving about with such haste?
3. Have a goal, and be pointed in your game plan. Meet the top three to five people who can help you, even in a small way, reach your goals. Better yet, figure out how you can help them reach theirs! See if they have a problem that needs solving.
4. You’re a participant. The networking event doesn’t exist solely to help you fulfill your destiny. A needy person who needs to meet everyone and shows up for their own benefit is transparent. Everyone can smell a rat. It won’t be effective networking. You’d know exactly the type of person I’m talking about if you saw them. They scream desperation.
5. Make personal connections with people, versus superficial ones. A business card is a worthless piece of paper. As a matter of fact, statistics show that 80% of them end up in the garbage within a week. I suspect this is because people are failing to make personal connections, in many cases.
6. Be a connector for others. Know their needs. Connect someone with a problem with someone who may have the solution. You just did a someone a favor. And it wasn’t difficult. Many times it just comes down to…
7. Do your homework. Be diligent in your research. Leave no stone unturned.
Would you believe me if I told you that at the last networking event that you were at there were at least five people whom you could have made a game-changing impact on? Trust me, they were there. If you had done your homework, I’ll bet you’d have found them.
Figure out who these people are, and seek them out. This can be a time-consuming, but worthwhile exercise. More on that later.
I think, for many of us, early in our careers we just wandered into networking events hoping something would happen. For many of us, it did. Many times in spite of our lack of preparation. This is, however, not a good strategy if you want to do it effectively.
Effective networking isn’t about meeting every person in the room. Nor is it about knowing everyone in the room. It’s about tact. It’s about finessing the right connections. In other words, identifying the top people you want to work with, work for, or simply want know. These are your connectors, and your connections. These are the people you’re willing to spend your time on. They are the ones worth knowing. And it takes time to know people.
If you’re likable you’ve created a personal bond with that person. Perhaps the next time you see them they can help you. Perhaps they have a relative or friend in the areas of need.
Find them and introduce yourself. And don’t be shy about it.
Sound like too much work?
Is it worth it?
What if you made it your goal to not leave a networking event without first forming a personal relationship with at least one person for whom you could work for, and one person who could work for you. What if you actually stuck with that commitment? After five networking events, you’d be set.
At Swapp, we are currently developing an in-app feature that utilizes A.I. technology to provide the answers to which networking events to go to, with whom to connect and when, based on your personal and professional goals. Instead of wandering around for three hours looking for the right people, wouldn’t it be nice to know precisely who, when and where? Think about the time that would be saved.
Soon it will be a reality.
Swapp provides the tools and attributes of good, effective networkers, all bundled in one convenient location.
Making personal connections is more than in just showing up. If I could improve the process of networking at events it would be to have a set of tools in my hand that provided me the ability to network effectively and efficiently. But there’s no replacement for adding value to others’ lives.
That’s the single most important thing to consider.