Networking is an important part of building business and relationships, even today. It’s great for sharing resources, ideas and perhaps finding colleagues or clients.
Networking events can be beneficial, and sometimes they can seem like a waste of time. Some people swear by them, while others have left them in the dust, never to return.
A successful networking event occurs when everyone understands that all attendees have equality. It’s about sharing passions and listening to people’s needs, in the event that you can connect them to people who can help them. It is not about personal gain, it’s about rubbing shoulders with other like-minded professionals.
Recently, I attended such an event and had a brief conversation with another attendee. The conversation was brief and friendly with the possible expectation we’d connect to each other on LinkedIn, and possibly have a coffee together in the new year. Fast-forward a few days later, suddenly I’ve been added to a mailing list and pitched to!
Sadly, not everyone is aware of the proper etiquette after a networking event. By all means, take those business cards and enter the information into a database! IF you’ve discussed that. Yes, you should definitely connect after the event. A simple email or LinkedIn message to say, “Hey, it was great to meet with you at *event name here*, let’s continue the conversation over coffee sometime soon!”
This is the correct way to build a business relationship. Looking at every new connection as if they are wearing dollar signs is a big no-no. Instead of wondering “What’s in this for me?” smart networkers think, “How can I help?”
Being genuine and helpful is what will make people remember you. When you leave a conversation, make a mental note of what that person has to offer and move along.
As you continue to mingle, you may come across someone who needs the services of the last person you spoke to. This is a perfect opportunity for you to introduce the two of them. This is what makes networking so successful!
Often, you can simply ask the question yourself, “How can I help?” This question proves that you are thinking outside of your own interests. Even if nothing comes from it that moment, you can connect later (those business cards come in handy!) and continue the conversation.
Following up is key. Everyone is busy, it’s a given. But how long does it really take to send off a quick email to a new connection? There is no excuse, make the time. It’s important, and once again, it will make you stand out. When they need help, in any capacity, you will be the first person they think of.
Karma is real, and if you are selfish about networking events, it will come back to bite you. However, the more you give and offer, you will notice that everything shifts and opens up in your favor. Believe it.