When attending an in-person event, which approach works best when looking to establish a long-term connection?
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1. Use Positive Body Language
If you want people to stay interested in your company after an in-person event, make sure that you’re using positive body language and social cues. Two of the best tips here are to make sure you’re smiling and making “warm” eye contact. People pick up on these subtle cues, and that helps draw them to you in order to build a long-term connection.
2. Ask Unexpected Questions
Surprise the person with a very thought-provoking personal question that makes them actually pause and take a moment to think through it. People love talking about themselves, and if you make them feel good and get them to step out of their usual thinking patterns, they’ll remember you when you follow up. Also, keep being curious and asking questions so you can have more content to follow up with.
3. Connect Right Away
When you hand out a business card, most of the time it gets added to a stack and forgotten about. To avoid that and establish a long-term connection, connect right away. When you exchange business cards with someone, let them know you’ll email them right away and then send them a message. When you’re in that person’s inbox, you’re more memorable and you can establish a connection much sooner.
4. Establish Win-Win Relationships
When attending networking events, don’t just think about yourself and how connecting with other professionals can benefit you. Instead, when speaking to another attendee, talk about how your relationship can be a win-win for both parties. By demonstrating how the connection will help the other person too, they’ll be more likely to reach out and establish a long-term connection.
5. Ask About Their Hobbies
If you want to build a long-term relationship, it’s important to fully put away work and connect on a human level. Compare notes about kids, hobbies, what their summer plans are, how they spend their Saturdays, etc. Everyone else is describing what they do, so you’ll quickly stand out from the crowd as someone the other side will want to invest time in, and the business will follow.
6. Spend More Time With Fewer People
It’s tempting to try to meet as many people as possible at an event. This is the wrong approach if you want to build real, meaningful relationships. Try to talk to fewer people for a longer amount of time. This will give you a chance to move past the pleasantries and really get to know someone. If you meet someone and you don’t feel a connection, it’s OK to politely move on. Otherwise, stay put.
7. Ask: ‘How Can I Help You?’
Our natural inclination for the best way to help ourselves is to ask others for help. Instead, ask others how you can help them. You will be surprised how the best way to establish long-term connections and to help yourself is by asking others how you can help them first.
8. Make Future Plans
The best way to think of a networking event is like a chess game: Think several moves ahead. When meeting someone for the first time that you want to establish a long-term connection with, make plans for the immediate future. It could be something as casual as lunch or as formal as a conference call. As long as you set a precedent for regular communication, you’ll be well on your way.
9. Don’t Ask for Anything Up Front
The best long-term relationships aren’t necessarily transactional—they’re established based on sharing similar interests. I usually schedule a follow-up coffee meet up or something similar, I never try to sell anything when first meeting somebody. The potential to work together will come out over time, so don’t rush it. At a minimum, you’ll establish a valuable connection.
10. Research Before the Event
You’re going to meet a lot of people at events, so be ready to make note of those you want to establish stronger relationships with. Many times you will have access to the attendees’ list prior to the event. Review it and make note of individuals or companies you want to connect with. Do a little research on how your companies would benefit each other you can bring it up when you meet in person.