Besides spending some time with the excellent people at Kellner, the best part of the experience was having my friend and co-worker, Rachel Greaves, come along to give me feedback after the presentation.
Rather than tell you what she said needed to be improved :-), I'll list what she said were important points that need to be emphasized.
- Networking is not selling! If you don't like networking, maybe it's because you think it's selling. And if you're meeting new people at each event you go to, it's cold calling. Ugh - who enjoys cold calling.
- You need a purpose for every event. Don't go just because you think you should. Have a reason - meet new people, be seen by people you know, get information about the host organization, etc.
- Make sure to find something in common with the new people you meet. It makes it much easier to build a relationship and it makes you more memorable to each other.
- Take a risk on wasting your time - not every event or activity is going to work out. You can reduce the likelihood by researching the group or organization in advance.
- It's okay to practice what you're going to say in advance. It's part of the preparation. Be especially ready to explain what you do in one sentence. I'm amazed when I meet people who stumble over telling me what they do for a living. And bored by people who go into great detail.
The first item on this list is the basic premise that makes or breaks your efforts. Networking is much easier if you focus on building the relationship first, rather than trying to sell on the first meeting. You take the pressure off yourself and others.