After reading my article 3 Take-aways from APAC 2016 and 2 Networking Tips, a voice talent sent me a message. This introverted person is attending an upcoming convention in another industry and asked if I had suggestions about how to ‘…converse with a complete stranger and determine if they are a qualified lead (or can point me to one) without coming across as “Me, me, me, me me.”’
It’s a great question in an area where many of us — and I include myself — struggle.
The very next day, I read a wonderful story from Joanne McFadden in the June issue of the Science Of Mind magazine that illustrates a perfect way to approach networking events!
McFadden was going to a dance. Rather than thinking of the type of man she wanted to attract as her date, she decided instead to dwell on who she could be and what she had to offer. She thought, “I could be a great girlfriend to someone because I’m smart, funny, beautiful, and caring!”
She met a man at the dance, became his girlfriend, and later married him.
Powerful things happen when we focus on being —
being peaceful, being happy, being loving, being kind, etc.
Here are 3 ways you can think about BEING at a networking event:
1. Being Prepared
If I were attending a convention in another industry, I would study the list of exhibitors and research their web sites. This way, I would learn about those companies so that I could speak intelligently with the people at the booths about their products and services. If the floor plan is available ahead of time, I would plot my route so that I could ensure I spoke with everyone I wanted to see.
I may be wrong about this next part, but I would be direct in asking exhibitors for an introduction to the marketing manager or other person with whom I’d like to meet. I also would ask them about their ideal customer so that I could refer others to them.
2. Being Creative
When attending events in other industries, those people may not know what we do. Consider devising a creative introduction, as described in this article.
One reason introverts dread conventions is because many of us hate small talk that is generated in typical interview-style questions. However, we would regret the untold missed opportunities of not speaking with other attendees between sessions, at lunch, etc.
The key to an interesting and meaningful discussion is to ask creative questions!
I have a book titled 4,000 Questions For Getting To Know Anyone and Everyone. Before attending the event, I would look in this book and find a handful of fun questions that I might want to ask as icebreakers, like these examples:
- What would your occupation have been in the Old West?
- How will you earn your 15 minutes of fame?
- What superhero powers would you like to have?
3. Being Organized
Realize that the odds are against your returning from the event with a job in hand. In fact, you probably shouldn’t expect any outcome other than meeting new people. A more likely scenario is that you will come home with a collection of business cards.
You’ll want to follow up with your new acquaintances, and you may need to contact them numerous times before a job will materialize. I highly recommend you read C. J. Hayden’s excellent article Anatomy of a Sale.
Before you can follow up with your prospects, though, you’ll want to start capturing things you discussed. As soon as you are able following the conversation, enter your conversation details in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software of choice.
I keep a contacts folder in Evernote. (If you sign up using my link, I get credit for the referral.) Evernote lets you take a picture of the business card with the camera on your phone. If you have a LinkedIn account, Evernote will synch the info from LinkedIn with the note containing the business card. Make notes about your discussion, especially their answers to your creative questions. You’ll use that information to follow-up with that person later.
Schedule dates and reasons to follow up with your prospects. C. J. Hayden’s handy list of 44 Ways to Follow Up With Your Prospects will help with this process.
When you concentrate on how you want to BE and not what you want to GET when networking, you can relax and enjoy a much more productive event!
Do you have favorite networking tips? Please share them in the comments!