We are about to kick off our Fall conference season, so what better time to share a few networking tips we have picked up over the years. Most, if not all, industry events leave time to network with your fellow attendees. This is an extremely important aspect of the event as it provides you the chance to make strong connections with your peers in the financial services industry. I am often times amazed to see that some individuals do not make the most of their time during coffee or lunch breaks. So, we thought we would put together a list of helpful tips you can use the next time you attend a conference or training event.
1. Wear Nametags on Your Right Side
* Most people shake your right hand, so it’s easier for them to look for your name if positioned on the right. Just something you can keep in mind when pinning on your badge.
2. Always Carry Business Cards
* You would be surprised by how many people forget their business cards! This simple take-away could be the key to someone following-up with you in the future.
3. Make the Most of an Opportunity
* At industry events, you are often surrounded by many knowledgeable experts. I’m always amazed that more people don’t ask questions after panel discussions have concluded. You should take this opportunity to get your questions answered.
4. Be Genuine
* Frankly, I think most people can read who the schmoozers are in the crowd… we all know the type. Your potential connections would rather make a trustworthy connection and discover your true personality, so maintain eye contact, smile and keep it real.
5. Keep the Conversation Flowing
* Try to create meaningful conversations. If you ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer you will show that you are interested in forming a more substantial conversation. Be sure to ask questions about the other person as people like to talk about themselves.
6. Be a Resource
* By providing information or helping connect others who could benefit from an introduction, you become a strong resource and will be remembered for it! This also puts you in a positive and helpful light. Someone might think of you again in the future when they need your help or advice once again… and that time it might benefit you and your business.
7. Get to Know New Faces
* Make the most of your networking time and meet new people, but don’t try to talk to everyone. It’s better to have a handful of meaningful conversations rather scores of short introductions. I would suggest your spend 75% of your time with people you don’t know. It’s all about making new contacts, but on the flip-side you still need time to maintain your existing connections. Therefore, you can use the remaining 25% of your time for reconnecting with already existing contacts.
8. Take Notes
* Once you receive a business card, take notes on the back of it so you will be able to recall what you were chatting about after the event is over. When you get back to the office compile all contacts in a database. Be sure to add the notes you jotted down. You never know when you may need to call on these people in the future.
9. Don’t Sell
* No one wants to be sold to, but they do want to make connections, so be careful not to come off too strong. Take an interest from a personal level and find a topic that the other person relates to from travel plans to sports.
* What’s the point of making these connections if you aren’t going to do anything with them? After the event, send a note or pick up the phone and call your new contacts. You can refer back to your discussion (from the notes you took!) and show that you were interested and listening. I think follow-up is overlooked more often than not, even though it is the most important piece of the networking puzzle. It’s your chance to really stand out from the crowd!
Did we leave anything out? Fill us in on some of your tips too!