One of the biggest advantages to being a Chamber member is the ability to network often and at over 80 different events a year. We have thousands of attendees come out to our events year in and year out and the numbers continue to increase. That being said, one thing we always hope people do while at the events and after look to maximize their opportunity to meet more professionals in the community to help grow their network and their business.
Whether you like it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to network. Here are 4 steps that anyone can take to make sure they use their time effectively at a Chamber event or any number of community events.
1. Don’t Try and Meet Everyone
One of the first mistakes anyone can make when jumping into the world of networking is to try and meet everyone at an event. First off, it’s very difficult to meet everyone at a Chamber event. The vast majority of Chamber networking events have over 75 people in the room and can have as many at 900 at our Gala. You can’t meet everyone and you shouldn’t. You can’t think that if 100 people were in the room and you collected 80 business cards that that was a success. You have to think, “Did you actually get to know the people?” It’s not about the number of people you meet, but the quality of the relationships made.
2. Avoid Giving a Sales Pitch
One consistent problem that people face when starting to network is that they look to sell during their conversations. Hold back the sales pitch. People go to networking events to meet people, not to be sold to. By focusing on getting to know the other professionals at the event without trying to first deliver the best 45 second sales pitch possible, you will establish good relationships that will last beyond that 5 minutes you spending chatting with them.
3. Get to Know the New People You Engage With
By avoiding making sales pitches and trying to meet everyone at the event you will then be able to get to know the background and challenges your new contacts have. You may not be able to help them with your products or services, but you may know others who can help them. The professionals you connect with might not need your help with anything at the moment but they could in the future so it’s important not to dismiss those you meet at an event simply because they have no immediate need for your help. Engage with them, discover their needs, and then help.
4. Make Notes and Follow Up
At the end of an event try making notes on the people you connected with. Remembering names, employers, and little details can be very difficult to do simply off of memory. Make notes on those you meet, add them to LinkedIn, whatever it takes to stay connected. And then remember to follow up! You will want to follow up and stay connected with those you meet. It can be easy to fall back into your routine and not connect, but it’s important and necessary.