I want to share a few networking tips with you for The Women’s Conference 2010. (These strategies will actually help you at any event.)
These are the six things you can do before, during and after the Conference to create more powerful connections with the people you meet -- and to get a higher return on the time and money you invest in attending.
What to Do Before the Event
1. Research. Whom do you want to meet with? What will you say to them that will get their attention and stand out from the crowd?
Here are some of the tools that can help you do with that research. A good place to start is always Google or Bing.
Make sure you read up on someone's previous blog posts and read their bio; perhaps you have something in common with them. If you know someone they know, grew up in the same town, went to college at the same place, share the same passion, or support the same charity, you will likely connect more easily.
A few years back, I was able to connect quickly with Sir Richard Branson at a charity function. When I had been reading articles about him, I uncovered something that pointed to one of his priorities at the time, and when I met him I invited him and executives from his team to an event at which they would find value. He gave me his private email in less then 30 seconds.
Reviewing someone's Twitter feed or Facebook posts is another great way to find insights that can be helpful in starting a conversation.
2. Know what to say when someone asks you what you do. This could be the biggest opportunity most people miss. We all know that, at some point in a conversation, most people will ask what you do. You have 10-15 seconds to grabs someone's attention, and if you do a good job, perhaps another two minutes to whet their appetite about your product and services.
For example here is mine: Have you ever met someone who is mega connected in their industry and very influential at what they do, and as a result they are able to get more business in less time, and get more referrals then their peers? Well I teach entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, and sales professionals to become highly influential, and then go to people in their industry.
What to Do During the Event
1. Have a giver’s mindset. If you want to easily differentiate yourself from most everyone else at the event, show up with a giver’s mindset. Most people tends to have a taker's mindset (looking for what can they get from other people when they first meet them). If you, on the other hand, focus on being a giver and seeing how you can serve other people, you will find it much easier to connect with others.
2. Know the right questions to ask. Here are some questions I have found to work most effectively when connecting with people at an event.
If and when you have rapport, a great question to ask is this: What is the most important project you are currently working on in case I or my network can help you in some way?
I can't tell you how many doors this last question has opened up! With good follow-up and leveraging one's network, you can add instant value to many people you meet.
What to Do After the Event
1. Prioritize your follow-up. One thing you should do when you first meet people is to make notes of important information on the back of their card.
I like to write down personal things they may have shared about their family or what they like to do in their spare time. I also like to record where I met them and what we discussed. If there is a way I can add value, I note that on the card, as well as any next steps.
It also makes sense to prioritize the contacts you met in an A/B/C fashion:
A - Must follow up. There was a good connection and there is a strong possibility of doing business in the near future.
B - Great people to stay in touch with. While there may not be a possibility of doing business in the short term. there could be strong possibilities in the future.
C – Keep in contact. This could be someone who you may just want to put into your online newsletter and stay in touch with in case something develops down the road.
2. Follow up fast and add value. If at all possible, follow up within 24 to 48 hours while the event is still fresh on someone's mind. The key to turning this into a connection is to add value to your newfound friend. Can you make a referral for them? Can you share a book or an article that can help them? If they were a speaker at the event, perhaps you can give them a testimonial they can use on their website. Can you invite them to an upcoming event that can help them generate more business or help their favorite charity?
The faster you can add value to someone else, the easier it will be for you to turn your newfound contacts into long-lasting, profitable connections.
Good connecting to you.
Larry Benet is known as The Connector. He is CEO and Co-Founder of the Speaker and Authors Networking Group (SANG). He is known for helping entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, and sales professionals to effortlessly turn contacts into connections. He has shared the stage with Tony Robbins, Jay Leno, Paul Abdul, Keith Ferrazzi, Peter Guber, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (from Chicken Soup For the Soul fame). To get more connection tips please visit http://www.larrybenet.com
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For more on networking,
Read Sandra Yancey’s Business Tips: How to Network, Sell & Glow