Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Don’t let something as blasé as networking overwhelm you just because you’re not sure how to navigate it. While they may seem perfunctory and difficult, networking events are, at their core, easy. The only secret to making good quality connections out of them is a matter of preparation and communication. There is a lot of value you can gain from a good networking experience. Here are the five keys to ensuring you make the right first impression:
1. Your Leave-Behinds Matter
Don’t stop at a business card. Offer new connections and potential clients a gift to remember you by, as generosity is always well-received. The best corporate gifts are thoughtful, useful and personalized with your name or logo. That means keeping it small and practical. Office stationery is often a safe choice and you can customize these items to suit your branding. Make sure to also bear in mind the crowd who will be attending your event, meaning don’t gift sweets at a networking event for the health industry.
2. Personal Messages and Emails
When following up with any new connection the biggest mistake one can make is sending an email that makes you sound like a bot rather than an interested party. Be sure to personalize every single email. Every last message should include the party’s name and ideally a reference point of information specific to them or your interaction with them at the networking event.
The beauty of a post-networking follow-up message with a personal touch is that, even if the conversation you had with the party wasn’t grand, you will be known as the one who remembered them as a person.
3. Remember Names
This is complementary to the point above. If you remember and use someone’s name, then the more likely they will be to remember your name and make an effort to understand who you are. Thus, allowing a better foundation for a meaningful connection to form afterward.
If you’re not naturally good at memorization, try using somebody’s name in an initial conversation or meeting at least three times. This is the technique sales representatives use on new customers and most of the time it will work, at least enough until your conversation is over and you can make a physical note of your new acquaintances’ names.
4. Celebrate Progress
Networking events will bring together people at different stages in their career, so take note of where your new connections are career-wise and be sure to celebrate their progress and milestones that you hear about in later meetings or via social media. This could be with a nice congratulations letter or even sending a bottle of wine or corporate travel accessory as a present if they are going through an important relocation or expansion! This way you share your positive attitude to change and encouragement.
5. Give Back
Whether it’s a gift, time, a partnership offer, a favor, or a contact, it’s nice to give back. This extends beyond the formal networking portion of the event and beyond the event itself. Be kind and give your time to the chatty venue staff who helped you set up your stand, to your curious customers and to anyone who brought you joy, assistance or showed your business interest. Being generous will bring about good karma, good publicity and will make you feel better, perfect for ensuring that positive first impression.
Now you know these easy steps to a lasting impression, it’s time to make someone’s acquaintance a memorable one. Make these steps a rule for all your interactions and events and send out those good vibes!