I write a lot about how to better improve your virtual presence but today I thought I would write about some grass roots strategies. For those of you who never attended a business networking event, they are great for making new contacts and in the Real Estate Industry it is all about the people. So if you are willing to give it a try here are 10 tips you should know. By the way a great place for find a Networking Event is on http://www.meetup.com
1: Bring Business Cards: Yes I know it sounds silly but a lot of people forget or do not bring enough.
2: Be prepared to talk, show your value. Instead of going to your next event and just winging it, try to think about what you want to say. Avoid a canned sale pitch and instead talk about who you are and what value you or your company can bring to the person you are talking to. Also remember your value might not be in what you can bring the person you are talking to but maybe in someone he/she knows. Referrals are everything.
3: Make good use of your time. When we did our speed networking session last meeting we gave everyone about 1 1/2 minutes to talk. We did this specifically because most people will decide on how good or interesting you are in under 2 minutes. In my world of web design people a person visiting your website makes an unconscious decision to stay on your website in under 10 seconds by visualizing color, images, space and key text.
4: RSVP early. Doing this helps in 2 ways. The first way is it forces you to commit early when your schedule is more likely to be free. If you wait until the last minute you run the risk of being busy that night. The second thing it does is it helps to foster more people to attend. People signup a lot of times based on the number of people already going. So if you see 20 people are already registered you are more likely to register yourself.
And don’t forget you can cancel your registration with most events up until the day before, so go ahead and RSV now!
5: Set time to meet everyone, don’t just talk to the people you know.
6: It’s always not about you: Some of the most successful people tend to put their own personal motives aside to connect other people. This can take place at the networking event or afterwards, but try to make connections between the people who you have recently met. This also helps people remember you because both people will remember you as the person who connected them. I was told from a colleague that she did not really make a connection until she met someone about 2-3 times.
7: It is not only about the event. After you leave take the time to connect virtually. With today’s social tools it is easy to extend the relationship after the meeting. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
8: Post via your Social Networks. After the meetup post something on LinkedIn or Facebook about the event. It helps to connect you to the people you met by reminding them where you both met.
9: Followup: Try to follow-up with the people you met within 48 hours. Visit their LinkedIn account and leave message, connect through common interest social groups or send a personalized email. Do not think of the new connection as just about what they can do for you; offer to refer contacts to others, ask questions pertinent to them.
10: Plan your next event. Networking is not just a once in a while thing. The more you practice networking, the better you will become. Take some time to see what you did good and what could be improved. Make note of these for your next event. Make a goal to attend at least one event or more per month.
I hope this might help you make your next meeting more successful.