There’s no better way to meet new clients and partners than at networking events. A dinner, a conference, or a trade show can lead to new business prospects.
Networking results in a better you. You end up learning from people in your field and ultimately becoming stronger in your field. When you spend time with people in your field, you grow.
Networking events offer the perfect opportunity to connect. They’re like speed dating for business. To make the most of networking events, you need to understand how to organize your contacts.
What do you do with those business cards?
Make the Most of Networking Events
Whether you’re going out for dinner with a group of potential clients or you’re working a trade show, you can do specific things to create a strong network.
Even before you go to the event, know how you will organize the business cards you receive. Do not collect them like trading cards. Have a purpose in mind.
Bring a box or a file with you specifically for the business cards you receive. Do not just organize the cards in alphabetical order. Alphabetical order means all cards have the same value and function.
Instead, order your cards in categories. Create an A, B, and C category, with A as the highest priority. The A cards have the name of the individuals you must connect with first.
Use the B section as your possible client and connection list, and use the C section for the mercy cards. You take the C cards because you do not want to hurt someone’s feelings but have little intention of connecting with them.
Organizing your cards from the start will help you remember which contacts you value the most at the time. Having a box or file with you will give you a place to put cards so you do not lose them.
Business cards are your warm leads. If you do not learn an efficient way to organize the information, you lose the lead and your network
Make Yourself Memorable
Networking means more than collecting business cards. every time you take a business card, give a business card.
Work on your first impressions.
Before you attend the event, plan what you will wear. You can only make a first impression once, so give the right impression. Wear clothes that reflect a professional attitude.
Networking events give you a reason to buy that new dress or a new pair of shoes. Practice your strong handshake and killer smile; walk in with confidence.
If you’re lacking confidence, practice your superhero pose before the event. You might feel silly, but science has proven a minute in this pose will build your confidence.
Practice some of the things you’ll say when you meet potential clients. Try a dry run on a family member. Script out your introduction and practice before you go.
Fold Your Cards
Some professionals develop methods that will help them remember what each card will do. Consider creating a folding method to help you remember the role of each contact.
For example, when you receive a card, fold the top right corner for potential clients, and fold the top left corner for potential partners.
Then you will know at a glance the role of each person in your network. You’ll see potential clients, partners, and employers.
Connect After the Event
When you’re in the midst of an event, focus on the people and not your phone. You have the cards in hand, and you can go through them after the event has finished.
Connect in person by penciling in a meeting at the event. Do not wait to see if you can find them after the event. Instead, exchange information and cards and then pencil in a meeting.
After the event has finished, focus on the cards you collected. To make the most of your cards, go through them all after the event and connect on social media.
The social world uses Facebook. The business world uses LinkedIn. If you do not have a LinkedIn account, set one up and begin connecting.
Connecting on LinkedIn is the twenty-first century way of reaching out to connections that aren’t across the hall.
Write it Down
After you meet an individual, shake hands, and exchange cards, use the card. Before you file it, take a quick note on its back reminding you of the conversation you had. When you go back to the card to file it, you’ll remember the person on the front much better.
As you market yourself to potential clients and hand out your business card, use those cards purposefully. Use your own cards in the same way. If you have extra information, not on the card, write it on the back of the card.
Excel at Networking
Now that you have the cards in hand, what do you do? Some people like to create a spreadsheet of contacts. A spreadsheet will help you organize your data purposefully.
You can create categories such as family, job titles, potential, and conversations. After you get home from the conference, go through those cards while your memories are fresh. Create a spreadsheet that will help you reach out and remember your contacts better.
Some companies offer software designed to organize the data on business cards. This software works like excel on steroids. Plus, you can see it on your smartphone.
Network for Net Worth
When you learn to organize business cards at networking events purposefully, you increase your personal net worth. You grow your business and remember the people you’ve connected with.
To see the best system for creating a strong business network, contact us.