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175249383-networing-smHow many times have you been to a networking event and wondered why your phone wasn’t ringing off the hook in the days or weeks that followed?  After all, you had your elevator pitch down to a science, your business cards were fresh from the printer and really impressive looking, and you know you made some great connections.  Maybe you even followed some of our previous advice about focusing on quality rather than quantity.  So what’s up?  Why isn’t the phone ringing off the hook or your in-box filling up with potential clients?

You can probably answer that question yourself by considering how many people YOU chose to give business to that you met at that event.   None, right?  Why not?   Well, how many people do you remember from that event?  You probably (hopefully) wrote some notes on their business cards to jog your memory.  You might even be including them in your next email blast.   But the truth is that most likely the dynamics of that networking event dissipated very quickly.  So what do you do about this?

  1.  UNDERSTAND THAT THE REAL CONNECTIONS OCCUR AFTER THE EVENT:   While  you’re at the event, hopefully you had some meaningful conversations with people and felt some sort of bond or attraction.   But if you leave it there, that’s where it will stay!
  2.  FOLLOW-UP WITH THOSE YOU FELT YOU CONNECTED WITH:   And remember that connections aren’t just potential clients.  Those connections could also be potential referral sources, partners to subcontract work to, or people that you simply enjoyed speaking to.
  3. “GIVERS-GAIN”:  One of the largest networking groups in the world (BNI) uses the term “Givers-Gain” as their motto.  What that means is that what you do for others will often be returned to you – sort of like Karma.   So if someone at the networking event happened to express a problem they were trying to solve that was outside of your expertise, imagine what they would think of you when you sent an email the next day with potential sources for where they might find their answers.   In other words, even if you have nothing to gain from the interaction (which is doubtful because all interactions have some degree of value), the good will generated will certainly put you in a good light.

The short summary:  Approach networking as a means to develop relationships – not just as a place to sell your stuff.