This week I’ve had a bunch of networking meetings. Â Some are the 20-people-having-lunch kind, and others are one-on-one getting to know you. Â In both cases I try to read something about the people I know are attending before I go so I have good questions to ask them when we talk. Â It seems like a no-brainer. But you would not believe the number of people who are not only unprepared for these events, but also are stunned when I ask them a question that came right off the information on the home page of their website! Â So, when you are getting ready for a networking meeting, here are my recommendations:
Before you go, read some information on the person’s website. I generally read enough so I know what the company does and what their role is. Â Sometimes it is hard to find out, but getting that far usually gives me enough.
I generally look for specifics about the person as well. Â This could be on their website bio or their LinkedIn profile. Â What I need is a hook into something we can relate on – where they are from, went to school, industry they work in, etc. Sometimes we have nothing and the hook is really how different we are. Â For instance I’ve lived my whole life in Northeastern Ohio so if I meet someone from California, I can ask about their extremely different experiences (although I’m always quick to mention I live here on purpose!).
If I will be meeting more than one person, I generally take notes and have them readily available to glance at. Most people are extremely flattered if you have notes about something you wanted to ask them. In fact, they are impressed with your preparation!
Lately, when I meet someone and we talk about something causing them to ask for my card, I have been writing a note on the back about what we said before handing it to them. Â I have found this has helped a lot in getting people to contact me. Â In the past I wrote it on their card and then I followed up several times but by giving them the note, they seem to take more ownership of the follow up.