Andrew Hennigan is a Lecturer, Speaker Coach and Writer. He is interested in speaking, writing, social media, networking, influencing, reputation, intercultural, innovation and other topics. He is also a freelance journalist, writer for hire and author of the book Payforward Networking. Copyright Andrew Hennigan 2007-2017.
How to Network Effectively at Face-to-Face Meetups
Face-to-face meetups are much more effective than online activity for discovering and creating a bond with other people. But it's not enough just to attend and hope for the best. To get the best results takes some effort and a little planning.
There are many different ways you can make every meeting fruitful and even fun, but to get you started here are five secrets that are going to make a difference:
1. GET INVOLVED SOMEHOW. Just attending an event is better than staying at home, but the people who get the best results are the people who are actively involved in the event, helping the organizers or participating in some way. This gives you much more visibility and more opportunities for interacting with other people. It's also much easier for shy people. Be an active part of the event and more people will remember you, especially if you have a role in the organization or presentation of the event. And the people who benefit the most? The people who speak.
2. LISTEN, REMEMBER. When you meet new people they are likely to tell you who they are and what they do. The most common networking mistake is to ignore this and think instead about what you are going to say. What works much better is to listen carefully to what other people have said and remember the key parts. This information is essential so that you will be able to help them in future -- a key principal of effective networking.
3. BE GENEROUS WITH HELP. Help the people you know and the people you meet when they ask for it and when you can offer help proactively. This will give you a reputation for being a great person to know and when you need anything other people are more likely to help. This is not "tit for tat" reciprocation, but rather building credit in your network equity account, a balance you can draw on later. Sometimes Alice helps Bob and Carol, then Derek helps Alice just because she has a good reputation and he knows she is the kind of person who is generous with others. Just help people. It will all come back one day.
4. FOCUS ON A FEW PEOPLE. Don't try to meet a hundred people you will forget immediately. Instead have a more realistic goal to get to know one or two new people. Spend enough time listening to them so that you know them well enough to be helpful in future. If you connect properly with just one new person the event was a success. Anything more than one is excellent.
5. BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT. Nobody can help you if they don't know how. Make sure that if you are looking for an internship, a job, an investor, speaking gigs or anything else then make sure that people know about this. Another common mistake in life is to assume that people know what we want. They don't. Make sure people know what you want then they are more likely to let you know if they find it.
At the next meetup you go to try at least one of these ideas and see where it takes you. If you can do all five that is even better but you should grow your networking skills one step at a time. And don't worry if you don't do it perfectly. There will always be more chances. Just make sure you attend events regularly.
More about professional networking
There's much more about professional networking in my book Payforward Networking, available in paperback and Kindle editions.
Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing
For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about networking and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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