It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, networking events are awkward. We feel put on the spot like we need to show off our best selves, prove that we know what we’re doing, and sell our brands in a way that will convince everyone we talk to, at that moment, to become a lifelong customer.
No wonder we all hate going to networking groups, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a single night of drinks and socializing.
At the Ohana Members Networking night (Held on the first Friday of every month) we want you to feel like you’re meeting up with family, not like you have to impress everyone in the room. So while meeting new people can feel weird, and marketing your business can bring out the worst imposter syndrome symptoms, we want you to know that you’re not alone. We’ve all felt that way walking into a networking night. This is why we’ve created a list of tips to help you not only survive your next networking night but thrive.
What Your Body Language is Saying About You
When you walk into a room what’s the first thing you do? Do you run and hide at the drink table? Cross your arms and stand in a corner? Stick your hands in your pockets and join the closest circle, praying that it will have some cool people to talk to?
When it comes to making a solid first impression it all comes down to how you use your hands. Yes, your hands. As humans, the first thing we notice about a person is their hand gestures. Through evolution, we’ve come to learn who is a friend and who is a foe by zeroing in on the hands. This means, that the easiest way to make new friends is to have your hands out where people can see them, and use them to confidently make gestures as you tell stories and talk about yourself.
Not convinced of the science behind this? Check out behavioral scientist Vanessa Van Edwards TEDx Talk about this very subject.
How Can You Provide Value?
We’ve all done it. Gone into a room looking for all the ways that someone can help me. How can you become my next client, how can you help my business grow, etc, etc. But when you approach networking nights from the opposite perspective it changes the game for you.
Instead of walking into the next event with the question of “How can you help me” switch it on its head and ask “how can I help you?” Can you provide a resource that would help out this business owner, can you provide a free call to build trust and get them started, Can you go the extra mile to show that you care and build a relationship.
Often the people we meet at networking events don’t end up becoming our customers, but they do become our referral base. By going above and beyond for these people will help you create an unforgettable experience that they will gladly tell their friends who might just be in the market for what you provide.
Share Your Info And Follow-Up
You cannot come to a networking event without some way to share your contact info. Whether that’s a business card you can hand out or a QR code saved to your photos that new friends can scan and save on their phones. Make it easy for people to contact you and connect.
At the very least, grab as many cards as you can and send out a follow-up email the next day saying how great it was to meet. If you really want to make an impact share a free resource, a piece of advice you noticed would be helpful for them based on your industry, or ask to connect 1:1 for coffee in the coming weeks.
Networking events were meant to be the starting conversation to a longer relationship. Don’t let the connection die after one night, keep building it days, weeks, and months after the initial event and actually build a network that will support you and your business in the long run.
Planning For Your Next Networking Night
As you get ready for your next Networking event try practicing your elevator pitch before you get there. How do you answer the questions “What do you do?” in a quick and easy way? By getting clear on this question you’ll set yourself up for a successful evening. And by feeling a little more confident going in, you can whip out those hand gestures to let everyone know you’re a friend and they can trust you.
Katie Leigh is a Brand Strategist and Photographer in the Denver Area. She helps small businesses get clear in their messaging, simplify their marketing, and create intentional practices for work-life balance. Get access to her amazing library of brand strategy tools free!