No one likes the networking events where everyone is wearing name tags and pushing business cards. I don’t like them either but I will admit that they are sometimes necessary, especially when you are first starting out. One thing that helped me along the way was to change the success criteria of those events. I used to measure networking success by the number of paying clients that resulted from them.
Now, I approach them differently. I measure success by the number of quality connections I make at them. Rather than looking for potential clients, I look for potential long term business relationships. By shifting my focus on the type of people I wanted to meet, I was able to shift the conversation from the hard sell of ‘me’ to a mutually beneficial conversation. I found that it is easier to be sincere with your dialog when you are talking about a win-win scenario. It takes the sell part out and is much less awkward when you get to the inevitable part of the conversation when you’re exchanging business cards.
When your focus is a mutually beneficial business relationship it opens the dialog much more easily. Also, by looking for opportunities in which you can partner with another person/company you are putting yourself in a situation where you can reach more potential clients because you are now connected to their network as well. Before the shift, I was trolling those events searching one client at a time. Since the shift, the focus is more global and I am able to put myself in a position to get my products and services in front of multiple clients at one time.
Call to Action: Give it a try. Think about what type of company you could partner with that would have a mutually beneficial outcome. Then when you find them at the next networking event, start a conversation. This part goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway … do your homework. Be prepared to explain how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Let me know how it goes.