Initiating Contact At Networking Events

It is simply up to you to initiate contact. That is worth repeating, it is up to you to initiate contact. Alternatively stated, DO NOT wait (or expect) others to make contact with you. Making contact is 100% your obligation, if you want a productive experience.

There is no magic to initiating contact. It only involves three simple things.

1) Make meaningful eye contact with people, where you look at them and they look you back in the eye. There is nothing strange about this. It is completely human.

2) With eye contact established, smile. This is not a forced smile, but a genuine “it is good to see you” smile. Chances are, human nature will kick in and they will smile back.

3) With that eye contact and a smile, simply say, “hello.” They may say “hello” in return, or they may say nothing.

Whatever the case, it was your objective (as well as sole obligation) to initiate contact. You have done that. Congratulations!

This sounds simple and it is. Nevertheless, this may be a little out of your comfort zone. If it is, here is a great way to practice. Go anywhere there are people (for example, shopping) and simply naturally wander around making eye contact, smiling, and saying, “hello.” It may seem unnatural at first, but in time you will develop a level of comfort that you can utilize in a more professional setting.

Location: A Key To Networking Success

At networking events, appropriately position yourself. In fishing, you go to where the fish are or will be. In networking, the same logic holds. Stand where you will most likely be amongst people. Near the entrance. At the buffet or bar. Close to other high traffic areas.

If you stand outside the main stream of human flow (or worse, sit off to the side), you virtually eliminate your opportunity for having anything come from the networking event – immediately or ever.

Assuming you have positioned yourself appropriately you will encounter people. Like a parade, from your position people will go meandering by.

Overcoming Aversion To Attending Networking Events

According to research, among people’s greatest fears are:
• Death By Fire;
• Public Speaking; &
• Vacationing With In-Laws

Not far behind is finding oneself in a room of total strangers. Even if you don’t fear that situation, you might NOT be totally comfortable with it. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

One surefire method to overcome the anxiety of being at events is to Have The Right Frame of Mind. While this may sound obvious, there are plenty of people who trip themselves up at networking events before they actually show up.

Remember that networking works, although not always exactly as you had hoped. Before you embark on the networking event, you need to truly believe that the process works and that your mere presence has set that process in motion.

While your mere presence is important, you will totally undermine your efforts if you bring with you anything but a positive disposition. Now, not every day, month or year, for that matter, can be a good one, but there is something good about each. Reflect on the positive aspects of your personal and professional life. Do what you can to be of uplifting spirits. Remember, while support groups can be a networking opportunity, most networking events are not designed to be support groups. Leave your worries at the door, to the extent possible.

Finally, embark on any networking event with a sincere expectation of the outcome. It may not be all that you hoped for, since there is no guarantee that you will get a new client out of it. But know this – something will come from you being there. You might meet someone that can refer you or put you one step closer to a new client. You might reconnect with a former client or center of influence or gain a piece of information that holds untold value. There is a plethora of potential benefit that can come from any networking event. You will never get it all, but you will always likely get something.

Building A Networking Relationship 7 of 7

As a business person, you need things today (clients, information, and contacts). Guess what? You are going to need those things tomorrow, and the next day, and next year. Thus, creating and nurturing productive relationships is an ongoing endeavor. Your job is never done.

Know this: Some days your networking efforts are going to seem worthwhile. It is easy to keep after it. Other days your networking efforts are going to seem like a complete waste. You will want to swear it off. Don’t.

You need to have faith. Opportunity comes from the most unlikely places and it is all the result of productive relationships. Never quit trying to build Know, Like, and Trust.

To summarize, remember that to be successful at anything, knowledge is important. What is vital, however, is being proficient at networking. Networking is about building solid relationship where people know you, like you, and trust you. Those things are achieved through certain actions and interactions with those in your network. These actions involve consistent generosity, reliability, and commitment to others, just to mention a few.

Building A Networking Relationship 6 of 7

Whether you are 19, 90 or somewhere in between, you know more people now than you could possibly meet over the next year (maybe two or three). Think about it. You know people in your community. You know people from high school, college, and your plethora of career moves (or those moving careers around you). You know people through your kids, parents, or family. You know lots of people.

While meeting new people is always an important part of networking, there is a tremendous advantage to networking with familiar names and faces – they already Know, Like and Trust you. That is a tremendous head start to productive and effective networking.

Given that, an important part of building your business or career network is to dig into your “now electronic” rolodexes, card files or little black books and mind your existing contacts. Reconnect with these old friends and acquaintances. Get caught up on their lives. Think of ways you can help them. Share with them about your professional endeavors. Remember to ask for assistance.

The “Know, Like, and Trust” is already there. All you need to do is capitalize on it.