What’s one step you can take to ensure you’re making long-term connections at networking events? Why is this a good tip for new entrepreneurs?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
1. Invite People to Dinner
I think so often people go to networking events and see these new relationships as business. But some of the best business relationships blur the line into personal relationships. Consider inviting people to parties, events, dinners, etc., that are ostensibly casual and friendly and use some of that time to just build a stronger relationship.
2. Find Common Ground
The best way to build meaningful connections when attending networking events is to find common ground with the people around you. Business owners within the same industry often have conflicting views on how things ought to be. Instead of focusing on your differences, finding common ground can lead to productive conversations that eventually lead to long-term partnerships and friendships.
3. Treat It Like a Normal Conversation
Treat the networking event like a normal conversation. People can sense if you view them as a means to an end, which makes you appear inauthentic and insincere. Don’t focus on what you want to get out of the interaction. Rather, focus on the humanness of the event. After all, successful businesses don’t treat people like transactions; they treat people as valued human beings.
4. Transition to Social Media
Transition these relationships to social media and LinkedIn right away. Ask to take out your phones and say something like, “Let’s follow each other so we can stay in touch after the event. Which social network do you use for networking?” It’s that simple. If you take the initiative first and follow or friend them and then engage with them, you have a much better chance of sustaining the momentum.
5. Add Personalization
Adding personalization to your conversations will take you much further than putting on an act while speaking to others. Calling someone by their name shows that you’re paying attention to them and want to hear what they have to say. Genuine actions make others want to do the same for you and keep the connection alive.
6. Attend Events Often
It’s important to attend networking events as often as you can and to increase the frequency with which you engage with your connections. When people see you and talk to you more often, they develop familiarity with you. This makes it easier for you to develop long-term connections.
7. Find Out How You Can Help
Invest some time with each of these connections and be helpful. Invite them to a brunch and connect with them. Find out how you can be helpful to them as well as how they can be helpful to your business. Whether it’s giving referrals or doing business with them, helpfulness is the key here. Also, make sure you exchange contact information with the connections you would like to stay in touch with.
8. Learn to Listen
If you want to make long-term connections at networking events, you have to learn to listen to other people. When you don’t give other people time to speak, you’re going to lose interest. In other words, engage in two-way conversations and ask questions. You’ll find that this will help you build long-term meaningful connections.
9. Research and Prepare Questions
Research who will be there and have a few questions ready to ask people about their business. They’ll remember you for already knowing them and their work and will be keen to keep in touch. Introduce yourself, be friendly, get their contact info and follow up afterward, emphasizing that you enjoyed your chat and would love to go for coffee to talk further about XYZ that you touched on at the event.
10. Follow Up With Intention
Collect the business cards of the people you want to connect with. Then, about a week after the event, reach out to each person separately and explain briefly how you met at the event and that you were very impressed with their work (use an example). Then ask them if there is anything you could do for them, even if it’s just an introduction to someone else. Just offer value. Dig the well before you’re thirsty.