8 Tips For Crushing It At Your Local Networking Meet-up
Networking events can be great for getting your name out into the community and building connections that could possibly lead to recurring business. But before you see results from a local meet-up, you need to first prepare. That’s why we’ve put together a list of eight tips to help you get the most out of such an event. While some of these will seem pretty common sense, don’t make the mistake of underestimating any of them. Let’s get started!
Dress for success.
Obviously, you won’t want to wear a three-piece suit to a cookout, but you should dress the best you can to the specific event. If it’s a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, a suit wouldn’t be out of line. A business cookout? Collared shirt and khakis. These are just examples. The point is to know how formal or casual the event is and adjust your wardrobe accordingly, inching closer to the more refined end of the spectrum than the overly casual.
Arrive with enough time to grab a seat near the front or middle of the room.
The back of the room is typically a bad place to sit because it puts you in a position where you have to fight for face time with your fellow networking connections. By choosing a spot at the middle or front of the room, the audience comes to you, and if need be, you can work your way to the back from there.
Bring your business cards.
Business cards can provide a lot of information about your specialties without you having to say anything at all. And while they may leave your card on the table or throw it in the trash on the way out, that little bit of time where they see your name, business, and what you do, is a foot in the door.
Be prepared with an elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a short description of what you do. It gets its name from the idea that you have only the length of an elevator ride to communicate what you do and why it’s important. Practice yours before attending the event, so it sounds natural when someone asks you what you do.
Make eye contact.
Eye contact shows confidence, and confidence is something that people remember. Also, it’s a sign of respect; a sign you want to engage with the individual on the other side of the conversation.
Deliver a firm handshake.
A firm handshake — not too firm, though — also communicates confidence, and while a good one won’t necessarily win you business, a bad one can send a terrible and embarrassing first impression.
Show interest in others.
When you attend one of these events, it’s only natural that you want something out of it for your business. Just try not to let others see that that’s your number one reason for being there. Instead show an interest in what they do. Ask questions and let them talk. People have a tendency to develop positive impressions of people that seem to genuinely show an interest. If you can pull this off, then it won’t be long before they start coming to you for their next piece of insurance business.
Last but not least, being flexible is important because it allows you to go where the conversation takes you and gets you out of your own way. While one part of you may be thinking “sell sell sell!,” the more sensible part of you is in control. Remember: a sale may make you a few dollars, but a relationship can make you a fortune. Focus on building relationships instead of plying your trade, and you’ll get a lot more out of these events.
Some agents look at local networking meet-ups as a waste of time. We disagree. Being able to connect with others, learn more about what they do, and leave them with a positive impression, are all things that can pay huge dividends for your business — not just in the short term but for years to come. You just have to go with the right intent and be mindful of how you’re presenting yourself.