Are you new to the BIA and networking? Don’t worry! While a crowded room can make even the most experienced professional’s palms sweat, we’re here to help! Networking is one of those key skills every successful businessperson needs. Take advantage of the networking opportunities within the BIA and grow your business! Here are some quick tips designed to help you focus your efforts.
Choose the right networking event. The best results come from attending the appropriate networking events for your business. Identify who you’re trying to reach, then attend those events they frequent. Do you need to network with building company executives responsible for entitlements? Get involved in your Chapter’s government affairs committee. Are you a sales associate looking for a new position? Go to the next Sales & Marketing Council dinner or breakfast. Do you simply want to expand your circle of influence? Try a general membership meeting in your Chapter, or volunteer for its golf committee.
Be memorable. There are several ways you can stand out from the crowd. Wear a unique tie or colorful jewelry. Be present! You’d be shocked at how many people engaged in chit-chat at networking events are only half there. Pay attention and ask observant or engaging questions and you’ll make an impression.
Make a positive first impression. You have one chance to make a great first impression. Develop a great handshake, approach people with a natural, genuine smile and make good eye contact. Listen carefully to the other person’s name. If you don’t hear them or understand exactly what they say, ask them to repeat it. Make a positive impression by asking them what they do before talking about yourself or your business.
Be able to clearly state what you do. Develop a one-sentence explanation of what you do and for whom, as well as a 30-second version. Think about how you would tell someone what you do while riding in an elevator from the lobby to the top floor.
Focus on quality contacts versus quantity. Most people have experienced the person who, while talking to you, keeps his eyes roving around the room, seeking his next victim. Don’t be that guy! Don’t just pass out and collect business cards; take the first step toward establishing a relationship. Think of networking as a marathon, not a sprint. Try to make between two and five new contacts at each networking meeting. Focus on the quality of the connection.