Find yourself attending countless networking events with little result in new business generated? It’s possible you’re just not leaving a memorable impression. But don’t take it personally. Most attendees are more focused on what they’re going to say than what you or anyone else is saying. That’s why deploying attention-grabbing strategies are essential to generating a real return on your networking time investment.
Start by wearing your nametag in a place where people aren’t afraid to look at it, slightly beneath your shoulder. And better yet, to avoid paper nametags that inevitably curl or fall off, invest in a more permanent tag with your name and company name printed in large, easy-to-read letters.
Ensure you’re one of the best dressed in the room. Within just three seconds, you make an indelible impression that is virtually irreversible. People appraise your visual and behavioral appearance from head to toe. They observe your demeanor, mannerisms and body language and even assess your grooming and accessories (watch, portfolio, handbag). If your outward appearance suggests success and professionalism, you will likely be thought of as a valuable contact and remembered.
When introducing yourself, say your first name, pause, and then say your full name. Repetition improves the chance your name sticks to memory. For example, say, “I’m Angela. Angela Anderson.”
Develop a memorable greeting. If you’re a loan officer, say: “I help make the dreams of business owners come true by helping them get startup capital.” If you own a record shop, consider saying: “Hi, I’m Rick. I believe in second chances for people and vinyl. That’s why I sell pre-owned records at my shop over in midtown.”
Bring a wingman – a colleague who knows you well. Approach new people together by introducing and bragging on one another. “This is Jenny. She’s a financial planning whiz. I wouldn’t trust my money with anyone else!”
Fully engage in each conversation versus focusing on others entering the room or what you’re going to say next. Maintain eye contact, smile, ask thoughtful follow-up questions, and sincerely compliment. Author and poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Utilize storytelling to keep those you’re speaking with engaged. Have a couple of clever stories prepared that reinforce what you do and the value you offer, ideally with an injection of humor to keep it interesting.
After the event, go “old school” by sending a handwritten note that references something interesting you learned about that person during your conversation. They’re rarely used these days, which will make you stand out.
Your time is precious. Make the most of your next networking event by making yourself memorable.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).