Some people go to a networking mixer with only one goal in mind: surviving until the time they plan to leave. However, networking doesn’t have to be a dreaded activity! Here are two tips to help you make the most of your time at networking mixers, and to help you enjoy yourself so the time will practically fly by.
- Set a Goal for the Number of People You’ll Meet. To get the most out of a networking event, set a goal regarding the number of contacts you want to make or the number of business cards you want to collect. Don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.If you feel inspired, set a goal to meet fifteen to twenty people and make sure you get each person’s business card. If you don’t feel so hot, shoot for less. In either case, set a reachable goal based on the attendance and the type of group.
- Spend Ten Minutes or Less with Each Person You Meet and Don’t Linger with Friends and Associates. Since your first goal is to meet a given number of people, you can’t spend too much time with any one person, no matter how interesting the conversation gets. Stay focused on making as many contacts as you can. When you meet people who are very interesting and with whom you want to spend more time, set up appointments with them. You can always meet later to continue the conversation.Don’t try to close business deals while you’re networking; it’s impractical. Set a date to meet and discuss your product or service in an environment more conducive to doing business. You may be able to increase your business with hot prospects if you take the time to fully understand their needs.Learn to leave conversations gracefully. Honesty is usually the best policy; tell them you need to connect with a few more people, sample the hors d’oeuvres, or get another drink. If you feel uncomfortable with that, exit like a host by introducing new acquaintances to someone you know. Better yet, if it seems appropriate, ask them to introduce you to people they know.Above all, don’t linger with friends and associates. These are people you already know, and you’re there to meet people you don’t know. I attended a mixer once where I saw several business friends stand and talk with one another for two hours. On their way out, one actually complained, “This was a waste of time. I didn’t get any business from it, did you?” Ummm, seriously??
I highly recommend you try executing these two tips at your next networking mixer. After you do so, come back and leave a comment in the forum below to let me know how it worked out. I’m confident you’ll be pleased with the results and I’d love to hear about your experience!