Have you ever signed up to attend a networking event and you found it difficult to talk with people or to develop any real business connections?
Here is a “Ninja Networking Secret” I use when I want to meet more people, especially when I know my competition would be there too. I first used this in Toledo, Ohio where I sold title insurance. We kiddingly called any real-estate networking event, “Title Wars” because there were often more title reps than there were real-estate agents or loan officers combined. So, here is the strategy:
- Arrive 15 minutes early and ask the host if there is anything you can do to help? Occasionally this might mean a last-minute adjustment to a table, but often it would be that they did not need any help.
- Ask, “Would it be helpful if I stood by the door and told people how to locate the bathrooms, where to check their coat, or how to find the bar?” The answer is almost always yes!
The reason this will work in your favor is threefold: first, the host of the event, who must have some influence to be hosting an event, will be grateful you offered to help, especially when none of your competitors did. And second, you will be seen as aligned with the hosting organization. Third, and most importantly, you will have a chance to say hello to every single person who is attending the event. And research supports that we remember the first and last people we see!
While your competitors might feel like it is better to be fashionably late, they will have to work ten times as hard just say hello to half as many people you will see by being at the front door. Plus, if you are like me, I am happy to leave early because, within the first 45 minutes, I have already seen and said hello to almost everyone in attendance.
- Follow up with the people you saw by email. If you do not have their email, ask the host if you can get a copy of the attendee list. In most cases, they will share this information, especially because you were willing to help, and they are willing to return the favor.
This message should not be a sales pitch but should say something to the effect of:
“Hi Dave, it was great seeing you last night at (event name). I hope you enjoyed yourself. Let’s connect for coffee soon and in the meantime, if I can refer any business your way, I certainly will.”
David Justus is an author, speaker, and Guinness World Record Holder. As the founder of Northcoast University, LLC and The Self-Coaching Vault, he shares his insights as a life and business coach to help people achieve greater success and more happiness.