Business networking events. We attend them or have attended them at one point or another in our careers.
But do you or did you ever get anything out professional networking events?
If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs, you’re looking to gain new clients and customers and business. You weren’t focused on the person you’re speaking with, you’re thinking about getting a meeting and closing a sale.
Did you get the sale? Maybe. Maybe not.
Why? Because people can tell if you’re genuinely interested in them or only interested in what you can get from them.
It’s one of the reasons why I dread attending networking events. As a writer [and human], I’m interested in getting to know people and hearing about their stories. I want to learn about where they grew up, their favorite books, why they started a business, etc. Most people I’ve met have told me what they can do for me and my business before they even got to know me.It’s a vicious cycle that continues, if you allow it to do so.
Keep reading to discover what I’ve learned from attending business networking events and how it can improve your communication and actually lead to generating more business and meaningful connections.
What Attending Business Networking Events Has Taught Me about Communication
Attend small business networking events and you can meet a wide variety of people. But before you sign up for another event, consider what I’ve learned. Improve your communication and make a better first impression.
It Isn’t about You
Before you attend an event, review the industries of members. After all, professional networking events are about getting to know others and what they need. If you specialize in helping those in the legal industry, you could connect with members who may have a need for your product or service.
Ask Better Questions
Don’t be that person who asks nothing but business questions. Instead of asking, “What type of accounting software do you use? Why not ask personal questions such as, “Have you lived in [fill in the city] for a long time?” You may learn that the person you’re speaking with is new to the area. You can give tips on the best restaurants, museums, and more. Get to know people on a more personal level before bombarding them with sales type of questions.
Put Your Business Card Away
If you carry business cards with you, don’t be quick to hand them out. Keep in mind that most people will ask if you have a website. Why? Because most people don’t want to carry a stack of business cards — they’d rather look up your website. If want to hand out business cards, give them out based on connections. Also, you may consider emailing or texting your business card to people.
Have a Better Attitude
Do you secretly have a chip on your shoulder? You may not realize how your attitude affects whether you connect with people. If you walk into a business networking event with a larger than life ego, you may not meet anyone. Before walk into a small business networking event, check your attitude at the door. Stay open to getting to know people because you never know who you’ll meet.
Show the Real You
Do you put on an act when you go to professional networking events? People can tell if you’re being in-authentic. Instead of thinking about how you should act and speak, be you. Why? Because in this instance it’s better to stand out rather than blend in a crowd. Be yourself because will appreciate getting to know the real you.
Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Even though it may pain you to turn off your cell phone, you may want to consider it. Why? Because you don’t need the distraction. If your cell phone is on, you may answer emails and text and check your social media networks. This isn’t the way to make a great first impression. Only turn your cell phone on when necessary, like emailing or texting your business card.
Workout before Going to an Event
If you get nervous before attending events, you may want to do a 30-60 minute workout. Besides feeling better about yourself, you’ll boost your endorphins and create a happy feeling. Think about this. It’s better to attend a professional networking event feeling great rather than feeling not-so-great.
Are You Ready to Improve Your Business and Connections?
Imagine attending business networking events and improving your communication and connections. You’re dressed to impress and feel good about yourself.
You no longer stumble over your words.
You’ve embraced who you are and show people the ‘real’ you.
You no longer focus on getting and closing sales.
Instead, you listen to others first and then ask for a meeting where you can learn more about them.
Sound impossible? It’s not.
Use what I’ve learned from attending business networking events and put your best foot forward.
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