So, you’ve found some local networking groups that you think would be beneficial for you to attend. The next step will be to take full advantage of these events by presenting yourself in a viable way and making as many helpful contacts as possible. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
Before the event, you might want to polish up your LinkedIn profile. Update your profile picture (make sure it’s a good one), check that your contact information is current and complete, and that you have your website URL on there. On Facebook, make sure everything that should be private is private. If your networking event uses Meetup or EventBright, you see who else will be attending. Also, be sure to pack business cards, a pen, paper and a calendar (it can be on your phone).
At the event, remember that you are there to make new connections, so don’t just stick with the people you know, sit with people that you have never met. Try and be one of the first ones there and the last one to sit down. Your name tag should be easy to read, and wear it on the right, so people can see it when you’re shaking hands. If someone asks you for your business card, have one ready to hand them, but not until they ask. Ask for their card, and write notes on it to help you remember them. Ask about people and listen with connecting ears. While mingling, keep in mind others who may benefit from their product or service and introduce two people who you think can help each other. Shift your thinking from “how can I get?” to “how can I give?”. A powerful question from Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver, you can ask someone, that will set you apart from everyone else is, “How can I know if the person I’m speaking with is a good prospect for you?”
After the event, you should follow up the new people you’ve met within two days. Connect with them on LinkedIn. You can look them up using their business card. Ask them for their business Facebook page and about connecting on Facebook. If they have good information that you feel is worth sharing, re-tweet it on Twitter. Once you have gotten to know them a little better, or have used their services, you can review their business on Yelp, or recommend someone on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Comment on their blog posts and on their Facebook pages. And most importantly, take the time to thank people at every opportunity you can; if they comment on your post, re-tweet you, introduce you to someone, connect with you, etc.