As a business professional one thing you should always be good at is knowing how to network. People like to shy away from this aspect of business, but this is the one activity that will set you a part from many other professionals in a business or workshop setting. Many social media platforms have pacified us, and though it has made our online network strong, our lively presence at events has become a little unprofessional. Are you struggling with how to approach people at events? Do you need help figuring out what you should say and what not to say?
Here's my 5 tips on how to be the best at networking:
1. Before you even approach people, you are already making a statement. What statement is this? Let's start with what you're wearing, what's in your hand, and even your body language.
-ALWAYS DRESS HOW YOU WANT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED.
If you're at an event where you will more than likely run into fellow entrepreneurs, business professionals, and the "who's who" of your city, dress to impress. Let them know you mean business. When it comes to business, people only take you as seriously as you take yourself, so be sure you are starting off with a good impression based on your attire.
Is your body language exemplifying someone who even wants to be approached? Let people know you are friendly. Begin every conversation with a nice smile. It definitely does lighten up the room!
- GIVE A FIRM HANDSHAKE.
This is something I struggled with for a while. As a young, woman in business, sometimes the best way to get people's attention is to wake them up with a good handshake. Now, you're not an athlete, so this is not a arm wrestle contest, but you just want to make a small statement. I once heard that people can tell a lot about you by the way you shake their hand. Are you shy? Are you a powerhouse? Are you going to lead the conversation or just follow the words of someone else? Make sure when you shake hands with other professionals that your hand shake is firm, look them dead in the eyes, and yes, don't forget to smile.
2. PERFECT YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH.
So we all know what an elevator pitch is... a 30-60 sec pitch where you should be able to communicate all the major details about yourself and your business; Similar to if you were in an elevator with a stranger, and wanted to introduce yourself by only sharing the really impressive details of your life just in time for the elevator door to open and get you to the next floor. You don't want to bore people and lose their attention by speaking for too long or going into detail about facts about you that people will probably not remember after they walk away.
For example, "My name is Jasmine, and I come from a family of many entrepreneurs. My dad has owned a family business for years and I really got all my best tips, tricks, and trades of the business from him. Growing up, I started to develop a business plan, and when I was ready I started JMPR."
Truth be told, nobody is going to really care. Instead people want to know about ME, what I do, and why I am a great entrepreneur.
Here's a few things you may want to add to your elevator pitch, guys:
-Name and Business/Brand (what you do)
-A few projects you've worked on to highlight your business
-Possibly how long you've been in business
-One short term and one long term goal for your business
A better elevator pitch would be:
For example, "Hi, my name is Jasmine. I am the founder of JMPR, LLC. You may have heard of me as, 'Your Most Dependable PR Girl,' or the girl that started her PR firm at 22 years old. I represent many clients in entertainment, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries. I actually was the coordinator of the WAGS Atlanta on E! premiere party back in December 2017. I'm looking to connect with other entertainment publicists at this event, and see how we can collaborate on future projects and events."
This pitch is straight to the point. I dropped a few facts that are unique and eye-catching. I am making the other person interested, and also offering an opportunity for them to respond, as well as take me up on my offer to collaborate on future business endeavors. My elevator pitch is not boring or demeaning. Instead, it is welcoming and exciting.
Be sure your elevator pitch is an exciting, quick summary of who you are as a brand.
3. ASK QUESTIONS.
You're networking so you want to keep the conversation going. You also want to show people that you are actually interested, and truly using this networking event as an opportunity to potentially acquire new business.
Good questions to ask at networking events are:
-How did you get started in your industry?
-What do you enjoy the most about your career?
-Have you had any major career struggles, and how did you overcome this?
-What skills are absolutely essential if people want to get into your line of work?
-How did you land your first client?
4. ALWAYS GET BUSINESS CARDS.
I tell my interns all the time, any event you go to is an opportunity for you to connect. You should leave an event with nothing less than 5-10 business cards. If they do not have a business card, follow them on social media. You should have some new followers in no time, if you are networking correctly.
5. FOLLOW UP.
Do not take these networking opportunities for granted. The point is for you to get connected, and stay connected. Many people are struggling with new partnerships because they simply do not understand the concept of reaching out. Be sure to follow up with every person you meet. Remind them who you are and what you do. Ask them out for coffee to discuss some branding ideas. Assuming you follow them on social media, don't be afraid to engage with them from time to time. You have a new business buddy so take advantage of this connection.
If you follow these simple how-to steps, you could become a pro at networking in no time- now something that you use to shy away from should be easy-peezy!
Hope this helps, guys!
-Your Most Dependable PR Girl