When you walk into a networking event, you’re walking into a room where everyone’s personality is on display. Over there in the corner is a person who looks like they want to talk to new people, but can’t muster the courage. There’s always one person roaming the room, making friends with everyone and telling jokes. Then, there are the few groups scattered about, standing in a circle facing one another and not talking to anyone outside that circle.
Networking events are critical to building the types of relationships you need to grow your business. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. Building these bonds generates business and keeps you on the forefront of your industry. It takes time, but it’s critical.
But, it’s not enough to only attend the event—you have to make the most of your time there! How you interact and conduct yourself is crucial if these are to be successful ventures for you.
We’ve all been to these events and know that some people have an approach that is more successful than others. We are drawn to some people and repelled by others. Let’s have some fun discovering how to network successfully. Read the descriptions below and ask yourself, “Which type of networker am I?”
|The Wallflower: The quiet and shy person who tends to show up, stay in one place the entire time, and not interact with anyone new. They wait for someone else to approach them. While they are polite, because they lack proactive nature, they will leave with no new connections or acquaintances. If you are a wallflower, the best move is to take an extrovert to introduce you to people. If you don’t know one, call the organization conducting the event. Ask them to arrange for someone to meet you and take you around to meet people. There is no shame in that!|
|The Clinger: A bit more out of the shell than #1, but only comfortable with people they know. While friendly, they tend to stay in the same circle and only catch up with their friends. If this sounds familiar, set a small goal of meeting 2-3 new people at the event, ask your friends for these introductions. You can still hang out with your usual pals, and benefit from the new connections you make. If you’re having trouble meeting the goal, have some fun, ask your group if they want to split up, and each bring back one person for everyone to meet.|
|The “Pusher”: This is the one everyone is trying to avoid. This person shows up to networking events with the intention to tell everyone about what they sell and try to close the deal on the spot. They pitch at every moment and are handing out more business cards than they can count. For those who do this: STOP. It’s annoying and won’t get you anywhere. Instead, relax. Stop selling. Make friends and build relationships. Ask questions and listen. While you are doing this, people will ask you what you do, and you can briefly tell them in a way that is engaging and makes them want to know more. If they do, you can make arrangements to meet after the event and continue the conversation.|
|The Listener: Talkers love this type. They are afraid to talk about themselves because they don’t know what to say, so instead, they stay focused on the other person. It’s nice to listen to others and learn about them, and they want to learn about you too. Relationships require give and take, if you only listen, then how do you have a beneficial relationship? If this sounds like you, the best thing to do is prepare. Think about the type of people you may meet and what you will have in common with them. Practice your answer to “What do you do?” and making it engaging so that people want to know more. Have a story or two ready to tell that those you meet will be able to relate to. Be prepared to participate in the conversation so that it doesn’t turn into an interview.|
|The Jester: The life of the party! If this is you, then you already know how fun you are. This person warms up a room and always has a crowd around them. Attracting others is easy, but making a lasting connection may be harder when you are the entertainer. Here’s the key: remember that it’s still business. They may remember you, but will they know what you do or who to refer to you? The goal of networking is building relationships that lead to results. Try having a few smaller, intimate conversations. Make a lasting impression that will benefit your business.|
Recognizing what type of networker you are is the first step. Then decide what type of networker you want to be to get the best results. Try the “new” networking you at the next event you attend.