I never thought of myself as a strong “Networker” — I used to think people that were good at networking were the slick car salesmen type people, the ones who were good at golf and knew everything about sports. That’s not true. Networking is something people can get good at through practice and sheer determination. These are a few practical tips I think might be useful for you! I learned them over a long period of time, but I think they could help fast-track you to becoming a “power networker” — let me know what you think!
For salespeople and entrepreneurs, networking is extremely important — if not the most important thing for your business. At our last startup, we got our first investor, our first customer, and our eventual acquirer all through networking at different events.
Networking at events such as tradeshows and conferences is a great way to meet prospects and eventually close deals. Over the years I’ve made a couple of secret “rules” to make sure I get the most out of these networking opportunities.
Tip 1: Resist the urge to be the mini-burger monster
I know a lot people think I am wrong on this one, but at cocktail receptions or general networking events trrrrrry not to eat. At least not the second you walk in the door. Imagine you need to talk to someone and you have a mouth full of food or something stuck in your teeth. Classic. Eat before and/or after the event. Trust me, you don’t want to be the one stuffing your face with shrimp and chicken skewers. It doesn’t look good.
Tip 2: Don’t drink red wine
Red wine stains your teeth and lips — avoid it. If I am drinking at all I usually stick to white wine or vodka-water. Also remember, it is ok to not drink at all. Having a drink or two may help you relax and give you some extra courage to meet people, but as you get more comfortable networking you will not need any liquid courage.
Tip 3: Overdress
I often argue with people about what to wear when going to any event. My rule: always overdress rather than underdress — as I write this my co-workers are reminding me that that’s actually a pretty famous “rule” and I probably didn’t coin it — but I digress. I’d rather people look at me and think I dress too well, as opposed to being that guy wearing a shirt and jeans to a cocktail party.
Tip 4: Target the people you want to talk to
Your time is limited. Get a list of attendees (if possible) or create a custom list of prospects you want to meet and seek them out. Depending on who you are trying to meet you may want to have different conversations with different groups of people, plan your time wisely!
Tip 5: Ask for Advice
If you need to meet someone, try asking for advice versus asking directly for a sale or money! Usually people in a position where they can invest or buy your product have made a career for themselves and love to give advice. Asking for advice is a great way to build a relationship with people who can actually help you.
Let me know what you think. What works for you? Any good stories, horror stories? Let me know in the comments or tweet me directly @somenmondal.
Looking for a job in sales? I’m currently launching an app that looks to match talented salespeople with their ideal sales jobs. You can set up a profile and get early access here!
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