Whether you are a “natural networker” or a bit on the introverted side, if you are like me, whenever you attend a business or community event, two questions pop into your mind:
1. Who are the most important people to meet that night?
2. How do I “work the room” for networking success?
Sales and marketing have been my career my whole life, so I can offer a time-tested approach that works to everyone’s advantage with none of the obnoxiousness or helplessness we have all encountered!
Since we can’t possibly meet everyone in a large public gathering, I follow “The Power of Two” and it flows naturally whether the event is large or small, whether planned as a formal dinner setting, or just to mingle over cocktails or stroll trade show booths.
Here it is:
The two most important people of the night are …
The person on your left, and the person on your right.
Here are some ways that will work to your advantage:
1. When standing in line to enter an event, introduce yourself to the person on your left, and then introduce that person to the person on your right. You’ll find common ground more quickly, I promise!
2. When standing in line at the bar, introduce yourself to the person on your left, and then introduce that person to the person on your right. Chatting your way to the front of the line is easy. Just ask what everyone’s favorite drink is, and you’re on your way!
3. When seated at a dinner table of eight or ten, spend the meal getting to know the person on your left and the person on your right. You will have time to learn in detail about their business, who they are personally, and what connections you might have together. For me, time and again, these two people have proven to be the most valuable connections of the night.
Two more tips:
4. When you approach a trade show booth, be a good listener, and if you know the booth business, give a “testimonial” to another person that may be standing beside you (again, on your left or on your right!) Then, thank the person behind the booth for being there, and ask them who their “most important type of potential customers are.” That is how I met one of The Geeky Girls, above!
5. Collecting business cards is more important than passing yours out. Two questions to ask the person on your left or right as you look over their card: “How’s business for you?” and if they say they are struggling, ask “How can I help?”
Bonus question: Ask about ways others use Social Media in their business and you might find yourselves sharing ideas together and bonding over your social success! Below is a picture of the day I asked Carol Farrar (who was then purely a Facebook friend) to have lunch together when I saw her in person for the first time at Agent Reboot in Irvine, CA. We have since become good friends in real life!
There you are… Networking anxiety and a frantic sense of “must do the whole room” can be avoided with the “Power of Two.” Tell me your best tips below, or comment where these ideas resonate most for you.