I attend hundreds of business networking events every year, and work with many business owners who want to win more business from their networking.
One of the questions I am asked most often is “how do I make an impact?” or “how do I make sure people remember me?”.
Here are five things which anyone can do to ensure that they not only make an impact, but make the right impact, at networking meetings:
- Prepare. So many people just pitch up at a networking meeting, completely unprepared, and expect that something will happen. Before you attend make sure you have your stuff together – business cards, marketing material, your 40 or 60 seconds and a way of making notes.
- Get there early. The longer you’re there the more opportunity you have to have conversations with people the more opportunity you have to leave an impression with people. Use the time before the formal part of the meeting starts to have mini 121s with people.
- Promote. Get your leaflets or brochures out on the bumf table, or wherever else you’re allowed to put them during the meeting. Get your banner up (you DO have a banner don’t you? If not, it is well worth it, it sits there promoting you throughout the whole meeting). Also, if you’ve got there early, you have the opportunity to get your banner in a prominent location.
- Listen. You are much more likely to make an impact by listening (like really listening, taking notice, taking notes, being genuinely interested) in other people, than you will by pitching yourself too hard. You see, when people ask me how to make an impact, very often they want a killer set of words or introduction that will leave people gagging to find out more. That’s actually really simple to achieve, but an easier way, and long term more effective way, to make an impact, is to be interested.
- Follow up. Remember, always, that you, and everyone else in the room has got real life. Once you’ve left the meeting other stuff gets in the way. Be the person who follows up. Be the person who keeps in touch. Be the person who is difficult to forget because you’re there, on social media and following up in a meaningful and respectful way. As a business owner, it is your job to remind them that you exist and not their job to remember you.
And a bonus tip:
Be consistent. People are more likely to remember you if you are there consistently than if you just turn up once, and try to make an impact!
Stefan Thomas is the author of Business Networking for Dummies and Instant Networking. He runs The Networking Retreat helping business owners from across the UK increase their ROI from business networking.