Network like a pro

December 5, 2013

mingling

Earlier this week, I attended Network Like A Pro, an event created by Master Sales Conversation Coach Kira Callahan of Conversation Gym and Entrepreneurial Women’s Café‘s Paulette Durepos.

If you have ever wondered in this digital age what the power is of face-to-face meetings, you haven’t met Kira yet! This introductory workshop to networking covered aspects we all run into: preparation, where to go and what to say. And perhaps most importantly, how you should follow up.

What’s the best way to prepare for a networking event?

The preparation is differently per person – some dance beforehand to get into the right mood and other practice their sales pitch silently on the subway – yet there are a few key tips to keep in mind.

  • Set you intentions. Ask yourself what the purpose of you going to the networking event is. A good example would be find three leads to follow up on.
  • Bring materials related to your business. It is generally know to bring a business card (tip: make sure it has the correct contact details) and a portfolio if you have one, but what else? If you have an event or promotion planned, bring pamphlets or other materials you have printed.

The goal of this event was to share strategies to make networking a viable business-building tool. “I find that most business owners see the value of attending these events, but they don’t really prepare for success, or bring anything more than their business cards. So they end up missing out on lots of opportunities,” says Kira.

So I am prepared, where do I go?

It depends greatly on your target clientele what the best places are. Make a start with signing up for meetup and eventbrite. Other places mentioned were trade shows, associations and the local Chamber of Commerce, and more. Key is to remember where you’ll find your target clientele or peer business people that work in related services.

What do I say now I’m at the networking event?

As mentioned in my blog article about marketing for start-up organizations, know your value proposition – and know it well! In addition, have a professional success or a client’s success story ready to share.

But it’s not all about your sales pitch. The goal is to start building a relationship, for starters find common interests you can talk about and keep the conversation going. Naturally, you don’t want to turn into a non-stop blabbing person people try to stay away from. (I’ve done that in the past, painfully trying to be the opposite of a wallflower.)

Instead, think with your conversation partner how you can help one another. Is it connecting him with someone in your network? Can you provide valuable feedback on an early-stage idea? Then do so! This is what is valuable for the other person and what he or she will remember about you.

The day after… How should you follow up?

Remember you came to the event with a goal? The task is then simple, reach out to the potential leads or other useful connections you made (perhaps you found someone in a related field and you can cross-promote one another).

Before contacting anyone, research your connections online. Respectfully show in your email show that you have done so, while relating back to the topics you spoke of at the networking event.

And here’s the other important note about following up: think about how you’d like to move the relationship forward.

The insight I got at Network Like A Pro

Kira’s key message is “Preparation + Opportunity = Success!” Sounds simple and is simple. Being aware of it is the first step in applying it.

I had a personal, probably not even noticeable for others, a-ha moment when Kira spoke about our mindset. Lightly she touched upon coming from a place of service and value.

That is exactly what has been key to my success at networking without even knowing it consciously. I have been able to connect some people in my growing network and new collaborations have sprung out of this. How cool!

So here’s a question to my blog readers – what has been your secret success ingredient to networking?

If you’d like to reach out to Kira, email her at kira@conversationgym.com or check out her website.

Author

Lisette Andreyko

Lisette is the founder of Kaleidoscope and is passionate about start-up leadership, personal growth and women in business (and psst.. about tea!). She enjoys connecting with small businesses through her network. You can find her on LinkedIn.