Immense opportunities accrue from networking events - new clients, partners, an opportunity to level up with industry standards and more.
But not every founder is able to get these benefits out of networking events. It’s why most of them also think attending networking events as a tedious activity with no reasonable return on time invested.
That’s hardly true. Oftentimes, it’s not the event that is the problem. It’s you.
Great leaders have mastered the practice of making the best out of every encounter - good or bad. Whether they are meeting someone farther down the totem pole than they are or a shark up the top of the food chain.
The best founders are armed with the right tools to leverage these opportunities.
You can become that kind of entrepreneur too. it only takes practice. The following tips are a good start:
1: Step out of your circle:
Some founders are naturally awkward around people. Which is fine. But founders that want to leverage opportunities, and grow their business step out of their circle and meet people they don’t already know. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.
2: Practice your elevator pitch:
One of the natural first questions when people meet for the first time is: “What do you do?”
You don’t want to drown in stultifying incoherence trying to answer this question. Make a clear and concise summary of what your business is about, delivering it with confidence.
Your pitch should explain who you are, summarize your achievements and tell other people exactly what you do.
3: Make yourself a business card:
These may be going out of fashion, but it’s still one of the fastest ways to make the initial commitment to contact other people or have them contact you.
Make it a simple design that is also professional. And don’t just hand it out liberally. Share your card with only people you’ve begun a genuine conversation with. That way you don’t run out of business cards too soon, and importantly: other people around the event don’t take it for granted.
4: Prepare with insightful conversation starters in advance:
There are many helpful lists of conversation starters on the internet. Use them liberally.
Here are few conversation starters you can consider using:
1: "It’s a beautiful venue. Have you been here before?"
2: "What's your story?" (This always sparks a fascinating and non-generic conversation)
Although, you should try not to be too clever lest people return with a blank bemused look. Using this line for instance could get you a look like that:
3: "I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by the deluge of info that’s being firehosed at us today. Is there one nugget of brilliance that’s really resonating with you?
There is certainly a simpler way to get that point across.
If you have a good idea about the sort of people that will be present at the event, think in advance of what they are working on. Try to tailor your conversation openers around their work and what you’d like to learn about what they do..
What else do you recommend? How do you build on networking opportunities? Share in the comments.
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