I’m so excited to lead a new networking chapter in Fairfax, Nexco. It was founded by a great group of businessmen whom I consider friends, and I’m honored to have been chosen to be the voice of this particular chapter.
I’ve done a lot of networking over the years, and I hear people say all of the time how much they hate networking. I disagree. I think networking can be fun, and quite beneficial if done right. Follow these steps to not only enjoy networking, but to do it successfully as well.
First off, remember that networking is not about you landing a job/client. It’s about gaining information from a business and giving enough information about yours in order for them to use that as a stepping stone. It’s a means to an end, not the end.
When you enter the room, first go to those you know. It will make the transition easier, especially if your nervous. Plus, those you know, know you best, and may already have met someone they think would be a good referral for you. When you meet someone, don’t make it all about you. Networking is much like dating; it’s an opportunity to get to know them and in turn, for them to get to know you. This is where you gauge whether there is a connection between your businesses, or possibly between them and one that you know.
After a networking event, reach out to those you wish to continue a conversation with. Ask them for coffee within 2 weeks of meeting. This way, the conversation stays fresh, and any topics that were hot or would be considered leads will still be warm when you meet.
Before you meet, do research on the business you’re meeting with. You want to look invested and interested in what they have to say and to offer. By being educated, they may be more interested in connecting you to other professionals as well.
Now, for that pesky “I hate networking” feeling of yours. Make yourself a promise to go to x number of networking events (tomorrow’s event is a great start!) and to make X number of connections, and when you do, reward yourself with whatever small thing makes you happy. Part of what makes networking so overwhelming is, well, the actual events are overwhelming. But, as I say, the only way to eat a whole elephant is to take small bites, so relax! Think of this as an adventure, and a positive path to your success!
Join me tomorrow at Brion’s Grille in University Mall in Fairfax from 11:30-1pm for some great networking with local businesses!