Face-to-face networking can bring great dividends
Have you just completed your business degree and are looking to meet people to get a job interview? Are you the business manager of an IT company seeking alliances with other companies? Are you a small business owner wishing to generate leads for your company?
Several years ago, I used to be president of a networking group that was part of Business Network International. Running now for over twenty-five years, the organization has chapters around the world from Australia to Zimbabwe.
During the weekly 90-minute meetings I would lead, I met many business people just like those I described above. It was a great experience in relationship building. It introduced me to many remarkable business people who are still my friends today.
For example, at BNI I met Dr. Fred Horowitz, who coaches small business owners in making a positive social impact. I had the pleasure of working on many projects with Dr. Fred. Today, I’d like to share four strategies that I learned the hard way: through decades of practice and hard work. These strategies will help you use your English skills to get the most out of networking events and move your career to the next level.
Tip 1. Do your homework before attending a networking event.
Attending a networking event can sometimes cost you a few dollars – for parking, for breakfast if it is an early morning event or even a small entry fee for evening events which serve food and beverages. So it is important you know if the networking event is the right one you you. If there a list of attendees is available, I like to check out who is attending. Knowing who will be there helps your strategically align yourself with people whom you can help and with people who can help you. This ties in with my next bit of advice.
Tip 2. Know your objective.
Have a goal in mind for attending a particular event. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can focus on meeting one or more people who can help you. If you are looking for a job in sales, you will want to speak to any sales directors attending. If you are looking to generate leads for your company, you want to speak to those in related industries in need of your services.
Tip 3. Be helpful.
Remember a good networker is always seeking to develop a relationship with others. Ask yourself how you can help someone? Do you know someone, for example, who can help other people. These are ways of developing a relationship. The slogan for BNI is “Givers gain.” This means that the more helpful you are to others, the more helpful they will be to you.
Tip 4. Work alone at networking.
If you are invited by someone or if you attend with a friend or colleague, don’t stick with that person. Go off and meet people by yourself. A good trick is to stand in the middle of the room so you become a natural meeting point for others. This may be a challenge if you are a shy person. But it will help you break the ice quickly.
Useful language to use at your next networking event
How are you?
How is everything going?
Glad to meet you.
I’m from …
I work for …
|Introducing a colleague
Can I introduce you to …
I would like you to meet …
|Talking about your company
The company I work for was founded in …
We have a workforce of …
I’d like to have your contact details.
Do you have a business card?