If you ask any business owner where they get their best clients, they all say through referrals. And if you ask about networking, they will all tell you it is vital to any business. So why is it when you go to a networking event, the organizers are sweating bullets because they didn’t have people sign up, a bunch of people show up who didn’t register, and then they don’t do anything to work the room?Â I was shocked recently when I gave a talk at a group about networking and two guys I know sat in the back, together. They work together and are in the same office on a daily basis.Â When I said something to them, they laughed at me and when it came time to move around and meet new people, they left. SERIOUSLY?
I’m always amazed there are people who choose a networking event by the facility or the food/drink or the speaker. A networking event is first and foremost a networking event.Â It doesn’t matter if it is held in the most posh country club or a barn, if the right people are there, it is worth your time.Â The same goes for the speaker.Â If the right people are in the room, the speaker is strictly secondary and you should be able to get something from them even if it is tips on how not to speak to a crowd. If you can only network if there is alcohol served, you need to seriously look at what you are doing.Â This is business – you should want to be on top of your game. I know very few people who get better with alcohol.
Networking is work. And sometimes it isn’t fun work. But that doesn’t mean you get a pass. Commit for the rest of this year to a certain number of hours of networking and find the events as far in advance as you can.Â Register for anything you want to attend so people will know you are going.Â Then, for the time between now and then you can use the events in your calling. Cold calling? Ask if the person is attending this event or that one.Â You sound connected and you might meet them. It also warms up the call.
Once you know where you are going, figure out what you want to accomplish.Â Do you want three new contacts per meeting?Â Or maybe you want three new people to remember you? Set those goals so you know what you need to do when you are there. And then, DO IT. Go to the meeting, meet the people, interact and be seen.Â And then when you tell me the best way to get business is through referrals, your next line will be, “why just last week I was at this event and I got a referral from a guy…”.
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