If you've been involved in the business world for any time at all it is likely that you've attended a networking event or two.
Developing new business relationships in a face-to-face networking environment can be one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for you to build your business. It can also be a complete waste of time and money don't handle yourself properly.
The fact is, there are probably more people doing things incorrectly at a networking event than doing them correctly. Networking is about building relationships not simply selling others on what it is that you do for a living. When you meet someone new you're going to make a better impression on them if you ask questions about what they do than by spending your time talking about what it is that you do. This is known as relationship marketing. Building business relationships can be more valuable to your business over time than simply focusing on trying to get sales. In fact, trying to get sales at a networking event can be all but useless.
A simple approach to handle yourself in a networking event is to just focus on allowing the other person to speak and asking more questions about them and what they do. For instance, if someone starts off by telling you they are an insurance agent, follow up by asking what got them into that line of business. If they mention anything about spending time with their family you can then follow up by asking more about the members of their family. This will begin to demonstrate that you're someone that truly cares about them and you will immediately distinguish yourself from everybody else in the room.
Even if the person asked specific questions about you it is okay and probably more valuable to you to answer them quickly and direct the attention back to the other person. Believe me, if you take the time to establish the proper relationship there will be plenty of time for you to tell them more about you and what it is that you do in the future. But for now, focus on the other person and they will remember you for sure.
Now many of you may be thinking you're missing out on an opportunity to share everything you know about your business when at a networking event. This type of approach rarely gets us the activity we hope for however. If you're simply focused on trying to talk as much as you can about you and your business you're likely to push more people way that you attract. Everybody in that room probably wants to talk about themselves and if you don't give them the opportunity to do so you won't wind up being remembered as anything other than a talker and someone who is self-centered. By focusing your attention on the other person you will earn the respect of pretty much everyone in the road and all of them will be glad to hear from you when you follow up after the event. Long-term relationships can turn into long-term referral sources as well as business. Take the time to cultivate and build those relationships properly and you will be rewarded for many years to come.