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Networking is the key to being relevant in the industry. When it comes to seeking business associations, attending networking events is the best way forward. When done correctly and genuinely, networking is flattering to other people and they actively participate in discussions regarding one’s organization, services provided, business goals and ambitions.
The best networking events are the industry conferences! They provide a platform for like-minded people from a specific industry to enable their own professional development and build beneficial connections in their domain.
The common myths about the networking events are:
1) Bigger the crowd, the better!
Though the number of attendees might be a deciding factor for many professionals to attend a networking conference or an event, it is not at all a reflection of the quality of the attendees. One needs to decipher their goal of attending the networking event and accordingly research based on various parameters, such as the profiles of the other attendees, size of the companies represented, spending budget, etc. After the research is concluded one needs to understand the value proposition for the money they would be spending and accordingly decide their participation.
2) Same crowd in subsequent editions
A subsequent edition of a networking event is the outcome and the proof of a successful event. This itself is a major plus point for the delegates to attend the conference. Each succeeding edition brings to the table new discussion topics as per industry trends and accordingly the right set of attendees is picked out, which align with the agenda and purpose of the same. The crowd at these subsequent editions is a mix of the regulars and the new attendees who find value in the conference. Attending all the editions of a specific networking conference aid in building long-term and strong business relations with the regulars like yourself.
3) A day off work
If the motivation behind attending the networking conference is getting a day off work, then you are highly mistaken. A professional should comprehend the fact that his or her team and colleagues are waiting back at the office for some great learning and quality leads. One should gather as much information as possible and actively meet the companies and professionals to garner fruitful business relationships.
4) Start with small talk
This mantra is a thing of the past and the history is not going to repeat itself any time soon! Nobody wants to engage in conversations about sports and family before getting to business. Nowadays, professionals have limited time, are more bullish, and are all ears to listen to one's work, their goals and ambitions, and about the organization they represent. One might assume that it is rude and boring to talk business at a networking happy hour, but it’s not and professionals actually expect to talk about stuff that really matters, i.e., business. Talking passionately and confidently about your work and ambitions is a stellar idea to connect with like-minded professionals and have productive associations.
5) Networking is Sales Opportunity
Networking is not a sales opportunity. It is about building new business relationships which are productive and mutually beneficial. If you are planning to prepare a monologue sales pitch, scrap it and prepare yourself for an engaging conversation where you talk to professionals and peers about yourself, your company and your services while exchanging business cards with them. The networking activities help you identify, and at the same time meet the prospects to shorten your sales cycle.
6) Meet as many people as you can
Meeting maximum possible people at a networking event should never be the vision of a professional. There is no point meeting hundred people at the conference and not being able to strike an intriguing and productive conversation with anybody, which results in nobody remembering you! Instead, one should go through and sort the profiles of attendees, and pick and choose individuals who would make a difference to his/ her business. Once a set of prospects is identified, one should involve in interesting and productive conversations with them.
7) Too expensive
Taking out time from the busy schedule, paying for the passes to attend, and traveling to the networking event venue seems a costly affair. Although, one should understand that the money spent on such events and conferences can yield much greater ROI. The returns, in terms of relevant and genuine first hand learning from experts, and sales closures, are extremely enticing!
8) A stack of business cards is a networking success
One should understand that the focus of networking is not lead generation but building business relations. You are not there to generate leads and then contact them once you return to your office, this is a big opportunity lost. One needs to arrange and execute multiple meetings on the same day at the conference venue itself. The focus should be on meeting industry leaders from successful organizations to gain more industry knowledge and impart the understanding of how your services and solutions could help companies solve their problem. The idea is to spread awareness about the organization and its services among the representatives and decision makers from the prospect companies. The ones which show interest by enquiring and engaging in detailed conversations could be contacted later for a follow-up.
While you’re at it, make notes on the card so you can remember what you spoke to the concerned person about, so the next time you meet them, you will pick up where you left off. They’ll love you for remembering.
Networking doesn’t have to be a complicated affair, neither a no-brainer. One should rise above the usual networking myths, and prepare themselves to build productive relationships and use them to generate business and eventually revenue for your organization!