Networking is something I mainly see people do badly. I don’t mean people lack social skills – most people I meet at cocktail parties are having a great time. But most professionals lack the combination of strategy, generosity, intentionality and follow up that generates revenue from networking. By improving in these 4 areas, you can finally start generating revenue from small talk at your next cocktail party.
Strategy :: Know why you are going to each event. Before you even accept the invitation, have a specific objective in mind for your business. Consider your target audience and determine if they will be in the room. Consider your business brand and whether this event is aligned with what your business is all about. Decide whether this is a networking event to tackle solo, with a colleague or two, or a viable opportunity to invite a client.
Generosity :: As you connect with people at the event, have a mindset of giving, not receiving. Ask questions. Learn about the people you meet and the business they are apart of. Uncover their motivators relationally and professionally. Offer introductions that may be of value, or information you could share that fits with your conversation. By going in with a giving mindset, you become more engaging to be around, but you also have the advantage of giving off a great first impression. The generous people in the room at a cocktail event are likely the ones at the end of the evening with the most opportunities for follow up – and it is in the follow up that relationships are forged and deals are achieved.
Intentionality :: Being intentional with your offers for follow up means the people you meet will anticipate hearing from you. Be well prepared when you arrive with business cards and a solid 10 second ‘elevator pitch’ about who you are and what you do that leaves those you meet eager to hear more. Speaking of being eager to hear more, be intentional about ending each conversation in less than 5 minutes – you have limited time at an event, and you don’t want to leave the evening having only connected with one person. By intentionally wrapping up conversations with an offer to follow up, grab a coffee, or free them up to meet others, you set the tone of the relationship and establish yourself as a leader, while retaining future opportunity to connect.
Follow Up :: If you are the greatest strategist, the most generous colleague and the most intentional person in the room, you will still walk away empty handed if you skip the follow up. In fact, if you aren’t going to have the time for follow up, my advice is don’t go to the party. Follow up means connecting again within an appropriate amount of time. Not the same day, but definitely an email or LinkedIn connection or even a phone call the next day. In some circles, a handwritten note would be a great touch as well. Whatever your approach, remember the follow up needs to be specifically related to whatever your conversation was at the event, it is most effective closer to the event, and it should offer something – perhaps a coffee meeting. Keep your follow up going and your revenue will follow each cocktail event you attend.