Grow your network not your fear
How to grow your network of professional clients and contacts
Many people fear and dread networking; after a long day of work, the couch seems far more inviting than attending an event with strangers trying to make connections. The personal vulnerability, awkward silences and the idea of talking incessantly leaves you a bit dry in the mouth.
While all of those thoughts cross everyone’s mind before an event, it’s crucial that you overcome these fears and seize the opportunity to make key contacts which can potentially propel your career forward. The saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ still rings incredibly true today and the more networking events you attend, the more confident you will become.
Here are are a few simple things to remember when attending a networking event to ensure you’re making the most of its potential:
DRESS THE PART
Anytime you meet someone on behalf of your business, you become the living face of the brand. Potential clients and contacts will immediately formulate opinions based on how you dress. Use your wardrobe as an opportunity to reinforce your company positioning. Are you business focused and aimed towards high end clients? Dress to match. Are you fun and approachable? Be bold and differentiate yourself! Solid, bright colors work best when it comes to drawing positive attention but don’t be afraid to wear a smile as the best accessory.
HELLO MY NAME IS…
Usually when you walk into a networking event, there is a table with “hello my name is” stickers scattered about. What do you do? Do you write your name? Your company name? Your occupation? all of the above??? It’s okay to get a little creative with your name tag. I recently attended a wedding networking event and I will never forget this makeup artist who wrote “’I DO’ Makeup” on her name tag. Her play on words was a great way to break the ice and start a conversation. Don’t overthink it — but have fun and stand out!
BREAK THE ICE
A good way to break the ice is to start with a general question — “What brings you here this evening?” This is the perfect way to understand the person’s intention and to learn more about their business goals. It also prepares you with your response. As an owner of a design agency, my goal is to offer creative solutions to businesses who need help with promoting their business in the best light possible. I’m not saying to start your conversation with a sales pitch, but rather to understand how you both can benefit from one another.
THE POWER OF THE BUSINESS CARD
The whole point of networking is to increase business and generate referrals. You want to gain powerful contacts that could benefit you and your business. A good trick is to write a note on the back of their business card to follow up with them when the event is over but add a little context regarding your conversation to help jog your memory. This will save you valuable time at the end of the night when you are sorting through hundreds of business cards.
Remember, networking isn’t over when the event comes to an end. It’s time to follow up with those amazing professionals you just met. Send an email letting them know you enjoyed getting to know them and reference the notes you made on the back of their business card. Connect with them on social media!
A good way to get your name out there is to join a local Chamber of Commerce. Chambers are filled with opportunities to network as well as provide you with useful tools to enhance and grow your business. It also brings credibility to your business.
Search useful networking sites for more opportunities like Network After Work. This website showcases networking events going on in your area. Their goal is to host events at unique and cool places around your city. It’s a great way to check out amazing places you’ve never been before and to network at the same time.
Most importantly, be brave. What do you have to lose?
DREAM MEDIA DESIGNS, Founded and operated by a brother and sister duo. We take pride in offering a unique process built on taking the time to learn about our clients and their needs.