Get out of your comfort zone
When attending a business networking event, it can be tempting to interact with people you already know if they are attending the event. But the idea is to make new contacts and grow your network. One thing you can do is introduce yourself someone new right after you arrive, especially someone who is standing alone. This way you will both be relieved and start off with a positive step.
Have your business cards ready
Although you don’t want to offer your business cards within 30 seconds of meeting someone, there will come a point in your conversation when it will be appropriate to exchange contact details. For this reason, make sure your business cards are easily accessible, such as in a shirt pocket or outside pocket of your handbag. Your business card is a reflection of your business, so keep them in a case so they are not crumpled or tattered.
Be service minded when business networking
A powerful way to build relationships with other business professionals is to have a helpful attitude. Instead of immediately promoting yourself and your services, look for ways to assist your fellow networkers. For example, they might be looking for a contact in a particular industry and you can help make the connection. According to the law of reciprocity, people will be keen to reciprocate and assist you when you have helped them.
Think about the small things that make a difference
Stand where you are likely to meet people. The bar and food tables are high-traffic areas best for business networking. You will want to shake hands with the people you meet so keep one hand free – so don’t try to hold food and a drink at the same time.
Follow up after the networking event
This is the most important part because people will tend to forget you if you don’t follow up. A quick call, note or email will solidify the relationship. Be sure to follow on up on anything you said you would do after the event, such as making an introduction to someone in your network. If you think you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship, see if you can set up a time to meet and learn more about each other’s businesses and challenges you are facing. When you meet you can discuss the types of customers you are looking for and how you can potentially assist each other.