One business activity I have been involved in for many years is attending networking events – chamber meetings, “business after hours,” conventions and industry seminars, etc.
These events are a way to meet new people, say hello to those I already know, and broaden the number of people I communicate with. You probably attend some of these also.
Some years ago I noticed that a high percentage of people come in to a networking venue, glance around seeking someone they know, rush over to them and start a conversation. They huddle together, sit together, talk together. Why do they do that? Attending a networking event and spending the time with friends or co-workers, while pleasant, is a waste of time and effort. That isn’t the reason networking events are hosted and it shouldn’t be the reason people attend.
I understand most people are uncomfortable in a setting where they don’t know anyone – I certainly am – but I overcame it years ago because I knew I wasn’t there for social reasons, I was there for business reasons. If meeting people who can become prospects and eventually clients is the reason you attend a networking event, socializing with co-workers or friends isn’t where you should be spending time.
If you’ve made up your mind to attend a networking event, come prepared to meet new people by having an introductory answer to the question, “So, what do you do for a living?” Most of these responses I’ve heard are generic and make the speaker sound like their product or service is a commodity, “I’m a (fill in the blank)”. Your goal is to differentiate yourself, your products and services from your competition so a better response would be, “I’m a (fill in the blank) who helps (state your targeted market and the benefit they gain by buying from you).”
The next time you attend a function where you can meet prospects, plan on just waving hello to your friends and co-workers but shake hands and sit with the new people you meet, introduce yourself properly and start following up with those you meet.
Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Discover whether your company has created a culture of excellence by taking a free, two-minute self assessment. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org put “Assessment” in the subject line.