Recently I joined a prestigious marketing group and recognized quickly that individuals attending the various gatherings did not know how to network. Abruptly a business card is placed in another’s hand while that person is staring at the nametag to determine if the person represents a known company or brand. If the attendee is an independent consultant, interest is lost. There is no follow-up or follow-through. I have written emails to people without any word of reply.

I have had tremendous success in turning networking events into new business and great personal friendships. How? It’s easy!

Here are my suggestions for generating business from networking events:

  • When you meet someone for the first time, don’t ask, “What do you do?” Instead, inquire, “How are you doing?” Perhaps compliment what they are wearing or comment on their glasses, shoes, or jewelry (it needs to be authentic)
  • Use a person’s name three times in a conversation. It helps you to remember, especially when their nametag is hidden or askew
  • Find out if they have been to this type of event before; if they have, ask them how they like the organization; if they haven’t, make them feel especially welcome by telling them your experiences
  • Ask them for their card only after you have developed an initial relationship or they ask you for yours
  • Before leaving the event, tell the person you would like to see them again to learn more about their business (not tell them about yours)
  • Find out what time of day generally works best; an early breakfast, mid morning coffee or lunch
  • Meet in a restaurant or a coffee shop, not in their office. Offices are stuffy, noisy and not conducive to getting to know a person or establish a personal relationship
  • Send them a follow-up email within a few days with some options to get together
  • Offer to pay if you have initiated the get-together; that’s why breakfast or coffee works well. People appreciate when they are treated, especially when an invitation has been extended
  • It’s never one-and-done. One meeting is not going to build a relationship or generate business. Be selective, however. I can guarantee that after one follow-up breakfast you will have a good idea how or if to continue an ongoing dialog
  • Don’t just think business, think relationship. Think friendship. If you end up with a new friend and not more business it’s still worth gold

People often ask me what are the traits of a good networker? My answer: a good networker is a person who likes to help people, is generous and not self-consumed. A good networker has a keen sense of curiosity. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in the case of networking, an inquisitive nature allows you to build relationships.

Whenever I go to a networking event, I’m excited. The possibilities to build new relationships are almost limitless. Remember meeting with someone one-on-one is the only way to invite a relationship. Gaining a new business venture is extremely valuable; obtaining a new friend is priceless and who know what can proceed from that.

What suggestions do you have?