How to do Networking? - During the event 

Walk the Walk

You’ve arrived at the event, so let’s jump right in.

Where are you going to stand?

TOP TIP: Stand near the food and drink, it’s where the people are AND can be a great conversation starter. “Those little square things with the red stuff on top were delicious, did you try one?”

Be approachable 

If you’re looking at your phone during an event, it’s a signal to people that you don’t want to be disturbed. Put your phone firmly in your pocket and try holding something else in your hand instead, like a drink.

Be selective and dissolve elegantly 

Use your time wisely, you don’t want to get stuck in conversations that aren’t valuable or going anywhere. The thing is, the person you’re talking too probably feels the same way but doesn’t know how to end the conversation. Dissolve it elegantly. A trick I sometimes use is to look above their shoulder and wave at “someone” behind them, then I can say “Oh I’ve just need to go and speak to this guy,  it was great to meet you” and leave. If you tell anyone I told you that, I’ll deny it!

Be Memorable 

Think of ways you can stand out. This could be something you wear - bright colours, a bow tie, a shirt with a slogan. Anything that can become a conversation starter. 

The Wing Man

Going to an event with someone can take a lot of the pressure out of networking. On the way to the event, discuss your goals for the event, who do you want to meet? This way you can introduce each other to the right people. Two people can cover more ground than one so your chances are higher. And your wingman can introduce you in much brighter light than you’d do for yourself. Make sure they know thing things you want to share. Finally, you can also help eachother out of awkward conversations, decide on an escape signal!

Talk the Talk 

Have you heard of active listening?

Active listening gives the other person a great feeling. A lot of the time in conversations rather than hearing what others are saying we focus on what we’re going to say next. Active listening focuses on what the person is saying to continue the conversation.
When the person has finished speaking, ask a follow up question based on what they’ve just said and keep doing this. More than anything, you’ll gather a load of information so when it’s your turn you can speak in the right context to them and make it super relevant.

  • How to start the conversation? — Good conversation starters include food, clothes you wear, hot industry news, events and holidays, something about the event itself. Approach all these topics before you starting talking about yourself or your pitch, as that’s a turn off.
  • It’s not about you, it’s them — Again, be interested and keep asking them about themselves. By the time you start telling them about yourself they will be much more interested.
  • If you pitch, pitch yourself first — be personal before you tell the story of what you do.
  • How can you help them? — Can you connect them to someone? 
  • Keeping Notes — If you go to an event, keep notes. Preferably on a business card you’ve received. Describe the person you met, what you spoke about, or any hook that you can use when you follow up.
  • Remember Names — Someone’s name is the most basic part of their identity and what represents them. When you come to say hello to someone, try to repeat the name of the person - “Hi John, Nice to meet you”. This will help you remember their name. If you can repeat it 3 times in the first 5 minutes, you’ll likely never forget it.

Lastly, remember just because the events over doesn’t mean your job is done. Next week, we’ll go through how you can keep the conversation going.

Jolt One

What is networking?

Networking is a business tool. These days we’re all expected to be mini businesses of one to succeed. We learn about marketing, finance, product and so on to make us well rounded employees and enhance our career.

So, if you want to want to run a successful business networking is a key skill you need to work on.

It can help you win your next role, meet your future boss and even find a potential co-founder for your next venture.

Networking can happen between two people, or in small groups. It’s everywhere. Whenever you meet someone, put your best foot forward. Who knows when that person will be relevant for your network or goals. Remember, networking is a two-way street. That means although you genuinely want to get to know the person in front of you well, both sides need to gain something from the interaction.

You don't have to sell yourself

Yes, you read that right - Networking is not selling!

Ok, so you do want to create the infrastructure for a future transaction of some sort, but not on the first date.

You know what it’s like, when someone comes up to you and it’s obvious they have no interest in you, they just need something from you. Don’t be that guy.

When we meet people it’s important to genuinely get to know them so that one day in the future, an opportunity could reveal itself.

That could be money, investors and donors, or somebody you might want to hire. If you start the conversation by pitching your service, it's a big turn off.

What’s the secret? 

It’s really about value creation.

It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to or what situation you’re in. You need to think about the value you can add to the interaction.
Here are a few ways to add value:

  • Be nice, compliment them - if you can show you’ve seen something they’ve done previously, even better!
  • Teach them something, this could be as simple as showing them an article or cool video or it could just be a great anecdote.
  • Make them laugh - a little bit of humour goes a long way in building relationships.
  • Connect them to other people in your network. People LOVE this. Be an introducer.

But wait, before we get going we need to set some goals

Networking is really hard to measure, that’s why lots of people don’t like it. It’s a soft skill that’s hard to prove to your boss. You’re creating an infrastructure for relationships but the payoff comes further down the line - in a week, a month, a year.

So, we need to set mini goals for while we do the groundwork.

For each event ask yourself:

  • Do I want to build comprehensive, in depth relationships with 1 or 2 people?
  • Or am I looking to make lots of connections albeit slightly less in depth?

Interestingly, studies have shown women prefer to deep dive into conversations whereas men tend to speak to more people less extensively.

And both work, it just depends on your goal.

When setting your goal for the event make it numeric 

For example:

  • Meet 5 people. 
  • Introduce myself to 3 investors. 
  • Get 10 business cards.

This will keep you focused on your objective for the event and will make sure you never feel like an event was a waste of time.

Stay tuned, in the next lesson we’re talking “Why? and Where?”. Expect it in your inbox in 3 days time :)

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Nitzan Cohen Arazi
Next Level networking