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In this post from his blog, Larry Benet, CEO of Speakers and Authors Networking Group (SANG) and Los Angeles Founder Institute mentor, outlines his best practices for networking at events. According to Larry, there are six things you can do before, during, and after the conference that will allow to create more powerful connections with the people you meet, and get a higher ROI of your time and money.
Below, How to Network More Effectively at Any Event has been republished;
"I wanted to share a few tips with you that will allow you to have more success networking and connecting at the Women’s Conference hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. These strategies will help you at any other event you attend in the future.
Here are six things you can do before, during, and after the conference that will allow to create more powerful connections with the people you meet, and get a higher ROI of your time and money from attending.
What To Do Before the Event
1. Research. Nothing will be more important than doing your homework. Who do you want to meet with? What will you say to them when you meet that will get their attention and cause you to stand out?
Make sure you read up on someone’s previous blog posts and read their bio; perhaps you have something in common with them. If you know someone they know, grew up in the same town, went to college at the same place, share the same passion, or support the same charity, you will likely connect more easily quickly.
Reviewing someone’s Twitter feed or Facebook posts is another great way to find insights that can be helpful in starting a conversation. A few years back, I was able to connect quickly with Sir Richard Branson; he gave me his private email after meeting him at a charity function in less then 30 seconds. When I was reading articles about him, I uncovered something that pointed to one of his priorities at the time, and when I met him I invited him and executives from his team to an event at which they would find value.
2. Knowing What To Say When Someone Asks You What You Do. This could be the biggest opportunity most people miss. It is amazing that this happens, because we all know most people, at some point in a conversation, will ask what you do. You have 10-15 seconds to grabs someone’s attention, and if you do a good job perhaps another two minutes to whet their appetite about your product and services.
For example here is mine: Have you ever met someone who is mega connected in their industry and very influential at what they do, and as a result they are able to get more business in less time, and get more referrals then their peers? Well I teach entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, and sales professionals to become highly influential, and then go to people in their industry.
What To Do During The Event
1. Have a Giver’s Mindset. If you want to easily differentiate yourself from most everyone else at the event, show up with a giver’s mindset. Most people tends to have a taker mindset (looking for what can they get from other people when they first meet them). If you, on the other hand, focus on being a giver and seeing how you can serve other people, you will find it much easier to connect with others.
2. Knowing the Right Questions To Ask. Here are some questions I have found to work most effectively when connecting with people at an event.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t doing ______ ?
How did you get started in the business?
What brings you to the conference?
Who are you looking to meet while you are here at the event?
If and when you have rapport, a great question to ask is this: What is the most important project you are currently working on in case I or my network can help you in some way?
I can’t tell you how many doors this last question has opened up! With good follow up and leveraging one’s network, you can add instant value to many people you meet.
What To Do After The Event
1. Prioritize Your Follow Up. One thing you should do when you first meet people is to make notes of important information that someone may have shared with you on the back of their card. Do it quickly, as it’s easy to quickly forget what others have shared.
I like to write down personal things they may have shared about their family or what they like to do in their spare time. I also like to record where I met them and what was discussed. If there is a way I can add value, I note that on the card, as well as any next steps we may have discussed.
It also makes sense to prioritize the contacts you met in an A/B/C fashion:
A – Must follow up. There was a good connection and there is a strong possibility of doing business in the near future.
B – Great people to stay in touch with. While there may not be a possibility of doing business in the short term. there could be strong possibilities in the future.
C – Keep in contact. This could be someone who you may just want to put into your online newsletter and stay in touch with in case something develops down the road.
2. Follow Up Fast and Add Value. If at all possible, to follow up within 24 to 48 hours while the event is still fresh on someone’s mind. The key element in terms of taking a contact and turning it into a connection is to add value to your new-found friend. Can you make a referral for them? Can you share a book or an article that can help them? If they were a speaker at the event, perhaps you give them a testimonial they can use on their website. Can you invite them to an upcoming event that can help them generate more business or help their favorite charity?
The faster you can add value to someone else, the easier it will be for you to turn your new found contacts into long-lasting, profitable connections.
Good connecting to you."