5 tips for effective networking at professional events
By Paul Butler, Newleaf Training and Development
We moved here ten years ago from England to pursue our dream of running our own business in California. When we first started, we were on an Entrepreneur’s Visa (an E2) that roughly translates into “If you don’t sell and create jobs you can’t stay. I just had to learn how to network or else the business would fail and we’d have to go back to England.
I didn’t learn these 5 tips in a book — these are just principles about human behavior that I’ve found just simply work to build profitable business relationships, first formed at professional events. I hope they help you.
1. Be interested, not interesting
Have an authentic curiosity in other people, their story and their business. Really try and understand them and think how you can make connections for them, or even use of their services. The Law of Reciprocity between people is an amazing principle: when you help others, someway, sometime and somehow it will always come back to you and you’ll be helped by them or someone else.
2. Listen twice as much as you speak
We have two ears and one mouth. At networking events, try and listen twice as much as you speak. Most people love the sound of their own voice. I have found that if you listen carefully, you might be able to help someone. I have also found that if you demonstrate attentive listening, they are then more apt to really tune in when it’s your turn to speak.
3. Look for an opportunity to serve within the organization
Professional associations are always looking for people to step up to serve in some capacity within the association. I have found that when you serve alongside people, something wonderful happens: you both are putting your shoulder to the plough for a common cause. As a result you build better and more meaningful professional relationships. By serving you will likely be recognized for your contributions on the association’s website or program materials.
4. Do what you say you’re going to do
I love living in Los Angeles but I have found that most people within business associations don’t do what they say they’re going to do. When they say, “I’ll call you” or “Let’s do lunch” or “We should get together” or “I’ll email” they don’t mean it. I have found that having a reputation for good follow-through sets you apart.
5. Be present
When you’re at the event, be present. Really listen to the announcements and consider what you can learn from the speaker if there’s a formal presentation been given. I have observed that most people are not present but instead are distracted on their phones. Be present — people notice.
I hope these 5 simple points are good reminders of common sense — my observation has been that common sense is not that commonly-practiced.
Paul Butler - ACMA, CGMA
Newleaf Training and Development
27433 Tourney Road, Suite 120
Valencia, CA 91355
Tel: (661) 288 1004