If you’re anything like me, the words “Networking” and “Business Mixer” can evoke a mix of excitement and anxiety, for the same two reasons: a chance to meet new people and a chance to promote ourselves or our business. Whichever feeling it brings, it’s important to assess whether networking is truly effective in achieving our goals. In this article, we’ll explore ways to refine our networking approach, ensure intentionality, and make meaningful connections.
We’ve all experienced it – standing around at a networking event, chatting with the same people and letting someone else monopolize the conversation. Even worse are the time we pull out our phones to appear too busy to do the one thing we came for – networking.
There are many reasons we fall into these self-defeating habits. One way to help overcome them is to have a solid networking plan. Think back to networking events you’ve attended and ask yourself these three questions: Is my networking intentional? Is my networking effective? Is my current networking strategy functioning for me?
1. Is my networking intentional?
With countless networking events available, it’s crucial to be selective. Signing up for every opportunity that comes our way may not yield the desired results. Instead, we should focus on events that align with our goals. Ask yourself: What is my purpose for attending? Do I want to meet potential clients, collaborate on a project, connect with competitors, or find a mentor? Narrowing down your objectives helps you choose the right events that cater to your specific needs.
2. Is my networking effective?
You’d be surprised how many times I’ve been to a networking event and heard someone say, “I don’t have any business cards.” To network effectively, it’s essential to have a way to exchange information quickly. While electronic business cards and LinkedIn profiles have gained popularity, in many places, traditional business cards are still king. Whichever method you choose, ensure your contact details are updated and readily available. Additionally, prepare an elevator pitch tailored to your goal for that specific event. Having a clear message in mind helps guide conversations and prevents aimless small talk.
3. Is my current networking strategy functioning for me?
Attending the networking event is just the beginning; the real power is in the follow-up. How many times have we met amazing people at events, with every intention of connecting with them, only to get caught up in life? Chances are they did as well, and the opportunity to connect is now gone. Set aside dedicated time to follow up with the individuals you met. Take the initiative to explore their online presence, such as social media pages, websites, or blogs. If you find common ground or connections, reach out with a personalized email reintroducing yourself and expressing interest in future collaboration. Don’t attempt to sell them on that first email. Focus on connecting. A genuine connection goes a long way.
Having a well-defined networking strategy can alleviate anxiety and improve outcomes. Evaluate your networking approach by considering three key questions: Is my networking intentional? Is it effective? Is it functioning? Honesty and self-assessment will guide you in establishing meaningful connections through networking.
Remember, it’s not just about meeting people; it’s about building mutually beneficial relationships. By refining your networking approach and aligning it with your goals, you can make the most of networking opportunities and build valuable connections that last.
For more information on effective networking and networking events, visit Make It Happen Sis!
By Dominique Murray, CEO and Founder of Make It Happen Sis!