How do you build business when you go to networking events?

By Van Pappas, CFP ®

I’ve been to many networking events in my life.  When I went to my first one, I asked myself what I wanted to get out of it.  Make a Sale? Meet more people?  Build my personal brand?  Even in this fast paced technological world, the old saying “people do business with people they know, like and trust” still holds true.  One of the best places to showcase yourself for this purpose is at a networking event.  So how do you build business when you are at a networking event?

Active Listening
While I have come up with a couple of variations of my elevator speech over the years, I have found that listening and asking the right questions is far more important.  Successful people listen to find out exactly what the other person is about.  The purpose of the event is to make connections and there is no better way to make a connection than to help someone out.  Being an active listener and asking the right questions sounds like simple stuff but it can be harder to actually do. Active listening takes effort but when you do it, the right questions will pop up and the payback is there.  You cannot solve their problem if you are busy talking at them.

Be a Farmer not a Hunter
Once you have been to a couple of events, you will notice that some people are what I call Hunters.  These are very hyper friendly people.  They quickly state their business while scanning the room for their next prey. They hand over their business card and expect you to reciprocate; they then make an excuse and move on to the next person.  The Hunter will go home that night and count up the number of cards they got.  Handing out cards makes them feel like they have achieved something.
Farmers on the other hand, understand the value of knowing, liking and trusting people. They are laid back, very comfortable with networking and genuinely interested in people.  If you are prepared to bide your time the business relationship will grow over time.  Farmers know that having a real connection with one person is much stronger than shallow chats with hundreds.

Give Referrals first
If you practiced active listening, you should be able to give out a referral to your new connection.  Get rid of the “what’s in it for me” attitude.  By helping them, you will build that trust.  If you can help someone out, then they will be much more likely to want to help you in some way, including recommending you to potential customers.

No matter what your profession, everyone wants to put more money in their wallet.  One conversation with the ‘right’ person can spark an idea or a strategy that takes your business from $5,000 a month to $50,000 practically overnight.  Making the investment with your time, money, and energy to attend networking events can prove to have the largest return on investment.  Follow these steps at your next networking event for Your Smart Money Move.

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