Being Bruce -: Networking Event Tip #8 - Make a Date (For coffee!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Networking Event Tip #8 - Make a Date (For coffee!)

-Networking Event Tip #8 - Make a Date (For coffee!)

Remember back in Networking Event Tip #4 when I said that business networking events aren't the right place, or at least the best place, to go for a social pickup (as in finding a date or potential mate)? Well, that's still true, but here I am seemingly reversing myself and suggesting that a great way to maximize the effectiveness of these events is to make dates for another time.

In this case, however, I'm not talking about a "date" date, rather a "get-to-know-you-and-your-business-better" date.

You may be an awesome connector and great at meeting new folks, but any solid networking connection must be followed up outside the networking event itself. During most networking events, especially those that are well attended, you really can't hear that well, it's tough to take notes, and you also don't want to spend all your time focusing just on one person and his or her business - use the event to meet several people (see Networking Event Tip #5). If you can leave with two or three appointments to follow up with a coffee or lunch meeting some time in the next few days (or at most a week), that's a major win.

In some groups these follow up meetings are called "1-on-1's", or (if that sounds slightly suspect) " 1-to-1's". The idea is to spend an hour or so learning more about the person's business. It's even better if it's not one-sided, if you each take a turn to explain your business or service.

Now, tactically (if it's OK to sound strategic), you may not be able or even want to set up a coffee "date" after one introduction at a networking event. Remember (from Networking Event Tip #7) you go to meet people and get to know them as people, not just as businesses. However, after you've talked with someone a few times at networking events, especially if in the meantime one or both of you has had occasion to refer business to the other, that's when it's most appropriate to suggest that you meet to learn more about each other's business and how you might help.

In a later Networking Event Tip I'll be writing about looking for ways to help everyone you meet, but the dual purpose of a "coffee date" outside the networking event venue is to get to know the person and her or his business so you each can help refer business.

This post is one in a series on how to make the most of in-person networking events. If you're going to go (and I suggest you do if your business benefits from relationships), you might as have the most fun possible and give and receive the greatest benefits from the occasion.

If you know of a networking event in the greater Wilmington Area [which means to me anywhere from Topsail Island, NC to North Myrtle Beach, SC] that's open to visitors, drop me a note ahead of time and I'll try to post it.