Everyone knows that high-level networking is a critical part of building a successful business, project, or brand.
Decision-makers at all levels want to feel confident in the person they are hiring or bringing on board for their projects, and in many cases, all it takes is one chance meeting to seal the deal.
It is also common knowledge that high-level networking is awkward. That uncomfortable feeling of scanning a room and deciding who to walk up to, what to say, and how to present yourself.
High-Level Networking is a true art form, that requires both practice, and trial and error in order to find your own secret sauce.
I attend lots of events, so I am always on the giving and receiving end of that first greeting.
Dress your best, be unique and spark confidence:
Simply put, when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, your confidence shines through.
Need I say more? I also recommend wearing something unique that grabs the attention of others.
In my case, I typically wear one of my custom made African pieces because it’s both flattering, and also always acts as a conversation starter allowing me to share a bit about myself right off the bat.
You may have an article of clothing or accessory that always gets complimented, wear that and it will almost always serve as an icebreaker.
Do your homework
Make sure you find out as much about the event as you can before going. Who is organizing it, who is attending and what opportunities are you looking for?
Prepare different pitches you can potentially deliver to attendees, bring the appropriate materials (brochures, pens, business cards, etc), and focus on your goals.
Knowing what you want to say and showing up prepared will increase your confidence, showcase your level of seriousness and leave little room for frivolity.
Be natural, not transactional and pushy
People like to joke, smile, converse and mingle without feeling pressure, and the most impactful connections start like that.
You want people to be attracted to your personality, and not feel hounded by business right from the get-go. The key is to place an emphasis on relationship building.
Earlier this year at a crowded event, I ended up sitting next to a lovely woman, sharing a few laughs over coffee while the event carried on.
Later, I learned that she is a very high ranking official at the UN, but our relationship had already been solidified in a friendly, convivial tone. When you get to the event, go get yourself a drink or a snack, relax.
Don’t focalize on the VIPs.
Please, you do not want to be the first one to bumrush the speakers after they immediately after they finish their presentation- they will not remember you.
I have watched attendees wait fifteen-thirty minutes for their chance to simply say hello or offer their praises to my clients, wasting an opportunity to make more meaningful connections in the room.
If you would like to introduce yourself to one of the heavy hitters, patiently wait your turn. Know what you want to say, find a reason to follow up, and find the best method to get in touch.
Have an appropriate business card etiquette.
Effective networking is not about collecting or distributing a million cards, so the first thing you do should never be to hand out or ask for a business card.
After you have established a connection and potential for collaboration, that is a good time to hand them your card. If they do not have one, but you wish to follow up, ask them for their email address or phone number on the spot.
If that does not happen, connect immediately following the event on social media with a follow-up message.
Follow up within 24 hours
Most people forget that networking does not stop at the event, it requires diligent and thoughtful follow up. Jot down notes during the event about the people you have met, and write them the next day to recap your conversation and propose a next action point.
This could be as simple as staying in touch, suggesting a meeting, or a direct ask about something which was discussed.
Since people are busy and attend many functions, it needs to be done within 24 hours to ensure they remember you and your conversation.
Always remember to stay calm and cool. Chances are slim that you will land your dream job or sign a big investment deal at a high-level networking event, but they are great places to plant the seeds that can grow into your next opportunity.
Always remember your value, make friends, and have some fun. It may turn out that people start lining up to hand you their business cards!
Missed our Facebook Live on August 22nd on how to drive social change through your business/ Career? Click here to watch.