The secret sauce of networking is manufactured before the meeting starts, and is used during the meeting to attract and engage, and after the meeting is over to engage and connect. Powerful sauce, eh?
Here’s what to do BEFORE and AFTER the meeting to be certain you make full advantage of DURING.
Preparing Before the Meeting:
- Preview the guest list. See if there’s anyone you know and reach out to them with a friendly welcome. Research the visitors you don’t know to find potential synergies. Investing time early pays handsome dividends later.
- Bring your own guests. Follow up with your guests to remind them about the meeting.
- Prepare and REHEARSE your commercial. Think about who you are asking to be referred to. Are you being specific? Humorous? Record it, play it back. Hate it? Re-record it until you like it. Arrive with a confident spiel so that people believe what you’re saying.
- Pick out what you’re going to wear the night before. YES, dress is that important! Make sure its sharp and wrinkle free. Depending on the time of day and setting, is your clothing appropriate? Will you look approachable for a breakfast meeting in an office? After-work cocktails in a lounge?
- For AM meetings, get up extra early. Set your alarm. Give yourself enough sleep to wake up refreshed and take time to get your voice and body warmed up. Showing up early and energetic is key to maximizing your exposure.
- Set your attitude on YES. No matter what happens on the way traffic, subway delay, rain, snow, sleet. Walk in upbeat, prepared, and ready to make new connections. Leave the drama at the door.
The success that takes place AFTER the networking event is a direct result of BEFORE and DURING. Assuming those stars were aligned, here’s what to strive for and do:
Outside of the meeting and after the meeting:
- 1-2-1 meetings. Meet for coffee. Meet for lunch. Learn about what your fellow members do and how you can help them. Ask a lot of questions. Lead with learning about them and not just talking about yourself. Show a genuine interest. Give advice and offer help. Take notes.
- Follow up with visitors. Odds are, there will be visitors in the room, if your group is healthy and growing. Don’t just add them to your contact list. Follow up with a friendly and personalized note. Connect on LinkedIn. Mention something you spoke about you wrote it down on their card, right?
- Give referrals. After you meet members that you trust, offer to introduce them to other people within your network. Don’t just make an introduction follow up on your referrals. Set three-way introduction calls. Find out were they able to connect? Did it work out? Did it lead to a sale? Learn what works and doesn’t work for your fellow members. You’d want them to do the same for you.
- Keep your word. Your word is your bond. Or is it? The one time you don’t keep it will be talked about, and could be a dent in your reputation. ALWAYS do what you say you’ll do.
- Invite guests once you’re in the groove with members. Guests benefit everyone, and also give you clout as a member who is taking action for the group. Visitors get to meet people who they could get business from and give business to. Members get to expand their network in the same way.
Okay. Ive just given you what to do before and after networking events, and last week I gave you what to do during the event, but Im far from finished.
Networking is a nuance, and networking is a science. Next week I will reveal some of the detail and all of the nuance that will make your networking a combination of relationship building, reputation building, and business building.
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