It’s that time of year — networking season! Spring is here, and people are ready to socialize again. Plus, many industries’ conferences are in full swing.
If you are in sales, this is the peak season for you to establish effective business networks. Below are 9 tips and tricks to improve your sales networking skills, so you can fully take advantage of this time of year!
1. Find the right event for you.
The point of attending networking events is to make lasting relationships that will help you professionally (and sometimes even personally), so you obviously want to find the right ones within your industry or related to your interests. Do a quick Google search for upcoming industry conferences or Meetup groups, or check a Crain’s “Calendar of Events” for your city to determine which events will give you the best return on your investment.
2. If you’re feeling shy, ask to join.
Networking begins by joining or initiating a conversation. Don’t shy away from a group of 3 or 4 people, as this could be a good opportunity to get involved in an interesting or valuable discussion. Instead, politely ask if you can join, which can be less awkward than trying to slide into the conversation.
3. Spot your ideal contacts.
Look to connect with inspiring innovators in your industry who have fresh ideas. Remember: If you provide them with something of value — for example, by sharing your knowledge on whatever your area of expertise may be — they will certainly remember you, too.
4. Remember names.
You can make a great impression on new people simply by remembering their name. An easy way to do so is by repeating the name out loud and then a couple of times to yourself.
5. Engage meaningfully.
The key to building strong relationships is not to focus on you, but to make it about the people with whom you’re speaking. Smile and engage with your networking friends meaningfully, and make them feel special by asking easy questions, maintaining eye contact and most importantly, listening.
6. Forget the elevator pitch.
Be genuine and keep your exchange light, informal and enjoyable. When you do get around to talking about what you do, people will be interested in your product or service just by you showing your enthusiasm and passion for it.
7. Set goals.
Before attending the event, set goals to accomplish by the end of the night — like collecting a certain amount of business cards, or setting up a few coffee dates.
8. Download a networking app.
There are plenty of apps out there that are becoming a hit on the networking scene. One that’s useful for sharing contact information is Cardmunch.
9. Follow up.
Don’t let the conversation end at the networking event. Always find a unique way to re-engage with your new contact so they remember you. Send a friendly follow-up, or content (like an industry-related news article) that is truly useful.
Enjoy networking season!