Like dating, there are now many ways to connect with people to look for and find your potential business matches, both online and offline. No matter what your purposes to networking, stick to these tips and you’ll be a pro and building your own Rolodex in no time.
Find a list of trade organizations in your city. Some have a small membership fee to take advantage of their panels and seminars, but most have free happy hours and mixers open to the public. Use Meetup.com for finding happenings in your area.
Attend conferences and workshops. Like Alt Summit. These are great opportunities to meet people because most of the time other attendees are in from out of town and in it for the same reasons you are: to network. They’ve invested a good chunk of change into travel, making connections and learning, so take advantage of the after hours events and breaks to meet people.
Keep Calm and Network On. Be confident. Make eye contact. Introduce yourself to others. Work the room. If you must, take a wing person with you, but don’t be afraid to fly solo and make your connections as well.
Network virtually. It’s easy and on your own time and the internet and social media make online networking much easier. Do your research ahead of time and make sure your online presence is up to par as well. Chances are they are doing as much research on you as you are on them.
Six degrees of separation? More like two! Ask open ended questions about the person to find common ground and similarities you might have to make conversation. You’d be pleasantly surprised at how much people are willing to share with you and like to talk if you just ask.
Never be without business cards in your wallet. You never know where or when you might meet people. Jot down notes on the back of the business cards from people you meet. Little random facts like what they were wearing, a conversation you had, their interests. Any mental triggers and conversation starters for the future.
Follow up and follow new connections on Social Media. Keep the conversation going with action items like getting coffee or swapping article ideas. Don’t loose momentum or hope and don’t expect everyone to respond right away, if at all.
Remember relationships do not form overnight. They take time and history to develop and flourish. Plant lots of seeds, water them wisely, and eventually, you’ll see the fruits of your labor. Do networking right, and you’ll be surprised of all the great things that may come of it.