As our Local Business Roundtable continues to become the premiere networking event in the Wausau area, we felt it was fitting to offer a roundtable topic on effective networking strategies. There are plenty of networking events to choose from: such as events like ours, Chamber get-togethers, service clubs, and structured groups like BNI. All of them give you an opportunity to get your face out into public, meet new people, and make business connections.
But how use your time at these events is critical to your success. At the August Local Business Roundtable, we invited John Prey, a corporate trainer and regular contributor to the group to moderate a short roundtable on effective networking strategies.
So, why do we network? This question was thrown to the group, and among the myriad of answers, the reasons boiled down to three main points: to get more business, meet new people, and learn from others. Every situation you’re in that has a networking component (and really that means just about any time you are in public, for that matter) you should be networking at some level.
When we are in a networking situation, what are the five essentials that we need to be carrying with us? Some of the items are obvious, but do you carry all five when you’re in public meeting new people?
- Nametag – Some events will provide a nametag, but it doesn’t hurt to invest in a quality name badge with your name and business engraved on it. Place this tag on the right hand side of your shirt or blouse to facilitate reading of the tag while shaking hands.
- Business Cards – Have an adequate supply of business cards on your person, and have them easy to reach when you need to share your card. Now you shouldn’t be passing your card out willy-nilly at events, but be prepared to share a card if someone asks for one.
- Pen – Have a pen handy for taking notes or jotting down one or two pieces of information on a card that you received from another networker.
- Paper – A small notepad is handy for note taking. Although myself and many tech savvy networkers prefer to use their phone to capture information. Apps like Evernote make it easy to sync that information with your computer.
- Breath Mints – Don’t forget the mints- it makes for a more pleasant networking experience for all of us.
Finally, follow up your networking with a thank-you. A quick note or email helps immensely to grow the networking relationship. One famous networker says that networking is all about farming and not hunting. You need to sow the seeds of growth, nurture then, and build the relationship. In time you’ll have a bountiful harvest.
Did you find this information useful? Join us every month for the Local Business Roundtable to network with 30+ business owners and professionals and to share on a pertinent topic for the business community. We meet on the fourth Thursday of the month at 7:30am at the Wausau Entrepreneurial and Education Center (100 N 72nd Ave, Wausau). There is no cost for this event.