Don't Leave These Ice Breakers at Home
Besides all the networking preparations and the “do’s” and “don’ts”, it is important to arrive at an event with questions that will further your discussion with whom you are meeting. Try a few of these and see how you do.
- Have you been to this event before?
- Yes answer: Who was the guest speaker, where was it held?
- No answer: What do you know about the guest speaker’s topic?
- How did you get your start in this business?
- What are some of the attributes of your “perfect customer” in case I can refer you business?
- What separates you from the competition?
- If you notice someone using a smart phone (a “don’t” at a networking event) ask them their thoughts on it and compare it to your phone.
- Do you have any recommendations on restaurants in the area? (Whether you are a local or traveling, people like to talk about a good restaurant).
- If you only know one person at an event, ask them if they wouldn’t mind introducing you to someone else that they know.
- Come to an event with a funny story to share. It will make you more memorable than a business card.
- When someone asks you a question, be sure to follow it up with a question about them.
What are the major changes happening within your industry?
Tips to Successfully Network at an Event
At the event:
Arrive early. It’s an easier transition to go into an almost empty room rather than when it’s full of conversation. By doing this you also almost turn into a greeter and get to meet the first group of people one on one.
Position your badge. Wear your name badge on your right so that your name is noticed when you shake hands.
Make an entrance. Everyone watches the door at an event to see who will be coming through the door next. Have good posture, smile and be noticed.
Introduce yourself. Pretend that you are at a social event where no one really cares what you do. Engage the people you meet in a conversation that focuses on them.
Act like the host. When you’re the host of a party, you meet everyone; you make sure they’re enjoying themselves. When you act like the host at a business event, you’ll feel freer to meet strangers and make introductions. When introducing new people, give each person’s name and the type of business they are in. Then be quiet and let them meet each other. After a moment, excuse yourself and move on.
Become a friend first. Find a common interest, like tennis. A warm sell is easier than a cold sell.
Find someone who is alone. Someone who is standing alone or sitting alone might be shy or uncomfortable at the event. Introduce yourself to them and take them with you to mingle with others.
Relax. Enjoy yourself; go in with the attitude - “let me see how I can try to help at least one person tonight.”
Sit with people you don’t know. You will maximize networking opportunities. Use this time to share war stories and successes which will help you bond with new contacts.
Meet new people. Make eye contact, smile, say hello, and shake hands. Introduce yourself and get to know the other person. Work your way around the room. Don’t just look for people in your industry, as you never know who may know someone who can help you or who you know who can help this person. Don’t get stuck in a long, drawn-out conversation. Make an appointment to meet later and then move on.
Offer a suggestion. Suggest a tip, tool, reference, book, web site or referral to help that person out. Networking is a two way street - it is what you can do to help them.
Exchange business cards. Keep your business cards easily accessible, in a pocket or your bag. When you meet someone that you’d like to maintain contact with, ask for their business card. Write notes on it for reference later on.
Written by - Brian Campagna & Gabrielle Guttman
Event Networking Dont's
Hand out business cards. Don’t go around the room and hand out your business cards; only give them out if asked.
Interrupt. If two people are talking facing each other that is a closed conversation. Interrupting will not make them think of you positively. If there are three or more people talking, that is more appropriate.
Burden people. Don’t bore people with your troubles or problems. Keep conversations positive. It’s “show time”.
Trash your competitor. Do not talk with animosity about competition in your conversation. People may remember you, but not for the right reasons.
Repeat your phone number. You have business cards that provide your information. Don’t make your listener search for a pen to write down your information.
Monopolize one person. Spending too much time with any one person will limit you from meeting other potential prospects; this includes a colleague that you work with or whomever invited you to attend the event.
Get cornered. Excuse yourself from the discussion politely if it isn’t working for you.
Sell. Teach others, at every opportunity, about who you are, as a person, and what it is that you do. Always present a clear emphasis on the type of client that you are looking for.
Run out of business cards. A pen and cocktail napkin is very unprofessional. Don’t think about expecting your contact to enter your information into their phone on the spot. Bring enough cards!
Collect cards and shake hands. Good conversations are more valuable than collecting tons of cards. Think quality vs. quantity.
Sit down. Sit down when the program begins. If there is not a program, you can sit once you’ve connected with someone.
Get drunk. Having a drink or two is okay, but getting drunk or showing up at an event with alcohol on your breath is not okay.
Follow up with email only. A better way to secure the business is through an email and a followup phone call.
Text/email/check voicemail. Using your mobile device during the event is rude. You will not achieve your networking goals if your head is buried in your mobile device.
Written by - Brian Campagna & Gabrielle Guttman
What is Your Best Business Pick-up Line?
We have all heard some terrible pick-up lines whether it was at a bar or at some party in college. Maybe some of us used them ourselves – but how does this apply to sales? How can you use a pick-up line to engage a prospect?
The sales process begins with prospecting and opening doors. Having a line that gets you in the door is a great way to start. We asked people “What is your best business pick-up line?” and we received terrific feedback.
- Tell me who would be a good customer for you.
- Let me know how I can help you.
- What do you do?
- I hope you can help me out.
- How is business going?
- What types of obstacles do you see in your market on the horizon?
- What makes your company unique over others like it?
- This office if buzzing with activity unlike another company I visited with earlier this week. What is your secret?
- Could you please do me a favor?
- I owe you a favor and I am returning it by….
- Talk about an event that has happened in their business. (Trigger Events Model)
Most of these questions lead to an open-ended answer – which will provide you with more information about the company. In sales, it’s key to be a good listener. You will hear cues about the needs of the company which will help you engage further with them.
Getting in the door, listening to a company’s needs and having the opportunity to present what your company can do for them is what EAS LeadGen specializes in. We break through the gatekeepers, gather information about what the needs are of an organization and schedule a face-to-face meeting for you with the decision maker.
Do you have a business pick-up line? What is it?
Pre-Event Networking Tips
Before an event:
Bring your networking tool kit. The networking tool kit includes: an ample supply of business cards, your name badge, any collateral material (flyers, brochures, etc.), and your marketing message (often referred to as your elevator pitch).
Define your goal. What is your goal for the event? Will you be able to achieve this goal? How will you achieve this goal? Goals could be about how many people you meet, the number of company contacts you establish, or meeting key people.
Identify who you want to meet. Before you attend an event, research who will be there - attendees, sponsors and speakers/panelists. Develop a list of people you would like to meet at the event.
Gather valuable information. Do some research using the internet, business journals, social media and news articles to determine the companies that interest you. Then find out all the information on them that you can, including products/services, market position, competition, industry trends, mergers and acquisitions, customer satisfaction (or lack of), financial stability, and current company challenges.
Practice your introduction. Avoid being tongue-tied when you try to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, prepare a self-introduction that is clear, interesting, and well delivered. It shouldn’t take longer than 8-10 seconds. This is your “elevator pitch” - providing information about yourself in the amount of time it takes to ride in an elevator. Here are a few examples:
- “Hi, my name is Joe Smith. I’m glad to have this chance to meet you and learn how the adhesives market is expanding into the solar energy sector.”
- “Good morning, I’m Samantha Baron, a former accounting firm employee who has worked in the financial sector helping corporations maximize investments.”
- “Hello, my name is Andrew Lynch. I’m a Senior Vice President at Z and H Industries and I work in new market development.”
Be prepared. If you’re afraid you’ll freeze up, prepare yourself in advance. Think of ice-breaker questions you can ask people you meet. Prepare your “elevator pitch”, anticipate questions that may be asked, and have concise answers ready.
Leave your troubles. Put on a happy face at the door. It is “show time”. People look forward to meeting energetic and positive people. Be the person that people would like to develop a business relationship and collaborate with.
Develop open-ended questions. Find unique questions that could ignite a conversation and lead to a follow-up business development discussion.
Written by: Brian Campagna & Gabrielle Guttman