- Professional trade and industry specific associations and organizations
- Conferences, seminars, trade shows and workshops
- CEO and executive clubs
- Awards dinners
- Country clubs
- Religious organizations
- Civic and other service type organizations
- SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)–especially if you offer a product or service that benefits the employees of corporations
Here are some tips to get the biggest return for your efforts:
- Do your homework. Learn as much about the event, speakers and attendees before you attend.
- Arrive early. The earlier you arrive, the more chances you will have to chat with the event organizers and the most eager attendees
- Dont expect clients right away. Networking is about building relationships and a network over time. You want to avoid projecting an energy of being desparate.
- Avoid verbal diarrhea about what you do. When asked what you do, only give a short, one sentence response to begin with. If the other person asks for more information, then and only then is it ok to give it. The last thing you want to happen is to spend 5-10 minutes talking with someone at length about what you do if they are truly not interested! (More than likely, they aren’t listening anyways )
- Segment the business cards you receive. Create categories for prospective clients, referral sources and potential suppliers and/or vendors. Be sure to remember to connect on LinkedIn.
- Leave time for follow up. You should plan time for follow up equal to the time spent at the event. For example, if you attend a 2 hour event, leave room for 2 hours of follow up the next business day. If you are unable to book this time, you should NOT attend the event.
- Follow through on your commitments. How many times at a networking event have you said or had someone say to you, “We should really get together for coffee.” Then it never happens. Don’t make commitments you can’t keep.
So close down your laptop, push away from your desk, and go meet quality corporate decision makers face to face! It’s one of the best ways to find real clients.
Leave your comments below about where you network or any questions you have….