by Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter”,
Networking events have been part of the business and social scene for
as long as anyone can remember. For many people, they make a trip to the
dentist seem fun. For others, networking events are enjoyable, but
because of who they have to spend time with, they wish they had
scheduled a visit to the dentist.
Regardless of your feelings on the subject, when attending an event,
it’s important to have the perspective that your goal should be to help
others first. Unfortunately, it’s an old cliché that is often left at
the door. The next time you’re headed to an event, keep in mind the
following simple, helpful rule: after it’s all said and done, you want
to have earned the right, privilege, honor, and respect to be able to
meet with them again. This is not a license to sell yourself, but an
opportunity to build a relationship.
- When you arrive at a networking event, avoid gravitating to
people you know. You should initially thank the host and then
immediately find someone new to introduce yourself to. This will
help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came.
- Stop selling and start listening! When you meet someone for the
first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t try
to sell them anything. Rather, begin to establish a relationship.
- Keep your business cards in the breast pocket of your coat, a
shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse so they are easy
to access and in good condition.
- When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand writing
your cell number on it. This will cause the recipient to feel that
they are receiving something special.
- When giving or receiving a business card, be especially careful
when dealing with people from outside the US as many cultures treat
them with very high regard.
- When receiving a card from someone, take a moment to write
yourself a note on it such as where you met. If you do this while
you’re still talking to the person, it will help convey your sense
of personal connection.
- During the course of a conversation, use the other person’s
first name two or three times. People always like to hear their own
name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is
- Rather than telling a new contact all about yourself, spend your
time asking them questions. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn!
- After you meet someone for the first time, use the back of their
business card to jot a note about something you learned from the
conversation and the date and place you met them. Recording the
information will give you something to talk to them about the next
time you see them.
- Connect with the person you’re talking to by tilting your head
as you listen to them. It is an effective body language technique
which communicates that you’re paying attention to what they’re
- When a person is talking to you, be sure to look directly at
them. Giving a person full attention with your eyes will encourage
them to share more.
- When giving someone eye contact, remember it’s not a
“stare-down” contest. Give the person 3 – 5 seconds of eye contact
and then look away briefly before returning your focus to them
- The best location to network is by a high-traffic area such as a
main door, the bar, or near the food.
- Never approach someone if they are walking towards the restroom
or if they have a phone in their hand. Wait until they have returned
to the networking area or put their phone away.
- After the person has shared something with you, ask them another
question about what they just said. This shows that you’re paying
attention and that you care about what they’re telling you.
- Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with
people. This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same
time. Remember, you’re there to network, not eat a full-course meal.
- As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each
new person you meet to at least one other person.
- Never try to barge into a group of 4 or more people. Come along
side of the group, but do not attempt to enter into the discussion
until you’ve made eye contact with everyone and a minimum of two
other people in the group have said something.
- Do not approach two people who are talking, as you may be
interrupting an important discussion.
- Initiate conversation with someone who is standing by
themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as
a result, will many times open up with valuable information.
- When you meet someone for the first time, you have 48 hours to
follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting
- A networking event is not a time to see how many business cards
you can acquire. Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships
that have potential.
Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter”, is a sales expert who speaks to
thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For
more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read
his Sales Motivation Blog, visit