Networking Tips by my Good Friend Mike Stenger
You’ve got your stack of business cards. You remembered to brush your teeth. You’re lookin’ snazzy, ready to connect with other business owners.
Networking is a great, often cheap way to make new connections. After all, it’s not just what you know, but who you know. At least that’s what they say.
You’re Not An X-Men
Remember Gambit, that one X-Men who threw exploding playing cards? By throwing your business card at any and every person you come in contact with, you are NOT increasing your chances of success…
You are increasing the likelihood people will toss your card in the trash. Plus, unless you opt for those 100,000 business cards free promos, you’re wasting money.
It’s all about context. You want to be in a position where people ask you for your business card FIRST. You get there by actually having a conversation and getting to understand more about them.
You build this thing called “rapport”, which is defined as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” 😉
Your elevator pitch, i.e, what you do, should take you 10 seconds or less to communicate. This isn’t an exact number, but the point is this: Keep it simple.
Nobody, upon running into you for the first time, wants to hear you ramble on and on. That gets us into the next thing…
Listen More Than You Yap
I get it. Social situations can be stressful. You’re talking fast, sipping an adult beverage, and generally just trying your damnedest to not look like an idiot.
The secret to awesome networking is listening.
“When you find someone’s enthusiasm, you find the gateway to all influence.” Brendon Burchard
In other words, you ask people questions about themselves and what they are excited/passionate about. For some weird psychological reason, even though you’re doing little of the talking, it makes you MORE interesting and MORE memorable.
Understand Basic Body Language
It’s absolutely mind-boggling how many people aren’t able to pick up on the most basic of body language.
So, here’s just a few things to be more conscious of…
If someone is not physically facing in your direction, if they’re not making eye contact, if they keep looking around, or if they keep fidgeting on their phone, they may not want to talk to you.
Of course, this could just be nerves, but you must be more aware of these subtle signs and know when to move on.
Bonus NLP trick: Mirror their body language. Don’t be super obvious about it, but if their arms are folded, fold your arms. If they have a hand in their pocket, put your hand in your pocket. On a subconscious level, it makes the other party more comfortable.
Trying To Meet Everybody
It’s just science. The more people you talk to, the more you increase your chances of working with somebody. While I can’t really argue with that, here’s what I have to say…
By rushing to try and chat with everybody, you are missing out on deeper conversations with interesting people who could become great connections.
Everyone you chat with does not need to be a potential client. People know people and can be a good referral. Plus, some people are just a good time!
The Follow Up
Yeah, Frank SAID he was going to email/call/text you, but people have a lot of other stuff going on and might not remember. You can’t always wait for other people to initiate the conversation. You must be proactive.
It should go without saying, but the initial follow up should NEVER be you pitching your product or service, unless of course they specifically requested more information.
That said, here’s a simple email template you can use…
Subject: [Your name] from [networking event/venue]
Hey [first name],
It was great chatting about XYZ yada yada yada.
Would be great to connect further sometime!
Look forward to hearing from you,
That’s it. As a bonus, include a CTA and link to whatever appointment scheduling software you use (I personally dig Calendly).
Anyways, hope this helps and let me know if there’s anything I missed!