My seventh rule of successful networking: Plant seeds not sales.
When you go to a networking event, you’re going to plant seeds. You’re not going to harvest. Networking is about meeting people. Stop going with the taker mentality.
“I want to take their time, I want to take their money, I want to take their order.”
Stop it. That’s not what networking’s about. It’s about planting seeds.
It beats the hell out of prospecting, by the way. But you need to do it with a measure of efficiency. I’ll call it the John Elway rule. John Elway was number seven. It’s the seven-minute rule: Do not spend more than seven minutes with any one person at that event. You’ve got seven minutes to make an impact.
Remember, the other person is there to work the room, too. They’re there to get leads. So prepare to not only open up and ask them some tactful, intriguing, provocative questions. Prepare to engage them throughout the conversation, not only about you, but be engaged with conversation about them.
And be prepared to end the conversation with something like, “Listen, I understand that you’re here to work, too. I understand that there are people you need to meet, and there’s other people that I need to see. I’ve got your card. I’m going to follow up with you as quickly as I can, and I really look forward to our next conversation.”
Be prepared to move on. If you show them that you’re willing to sit there and take all their time, then they’re never going to want to meet with you on a sales call.
Photo by the yes man, via Creative Commons 2.0