Time is always tight at networking events. Even if you’re due to be there for an entire day, squeezing the most valuable conversations in can be difficult as you mix pleasantries with off-piste conversations about last night’s football and what you’re planning to do with the family at the weekend.
This makes finding the most valuable contacts a vital task. Thankfully, there are some common character traits that you can look for when identifying the people who are most likely to be of use to your business once the event has finished.
1. They approach you
If someone clearly makes a beeline for you during the networking event, there’s a good chance they’re doing so for a reason that will be beneficial for you both.
Clearly, you’ll occasionally get someone who intends to do nothing more than give you the hard sell (see tip 3), but that’s thankfully less of a thing these days.
It takes a fair bit of courage to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation about business, and if someone does the hard work for you, that could be a very good sign indeed.
2. They listen to you
A common lesson we’re taught in life is to listen rather than talk, and this is a valuable skill to have at a networking event.
If someone clearly takes an interest in what you’re saying and doesn’t constantly interject or attempt to turn the conversation around to them, they’re a good listener, and some of the best business contacts you make will have that quality.
3. There’s no immediate sales pitch
Traditional networking isn’t a sales task. Anyone who enters the room with that mindset is likely to get the cold shoulder from most people, which is probably why it’s such a rarity these days.
When people introduce themselves to you and start by asking you questions, that’s a clue they’re worth talking to. If they don’t provide you with a clearly scripted response to your questions, even better.
Being sold to at a networking event isn’t particularly enjoyable, but finding someone who understands this is about as good as it gets.
4. They share a common belief
When you head to a networking event, there might be a specific issue within your industry on which you have a strong opinion, or perhaps a national news item which affects your sector that’s at the top of your mind.
Find someone who shares a similar belief or mindset on the topic in question, and you’ll almost certainly gain a very valuable connection for your business. And you’ll know, quickly, when you’re both on the same page, because the conversation will flow incredibly easily.
5. They ask lots of questions
We alluded to this in tip 2, but the most valuable networking contacts are those who ask you plenty of questions from the outset.
If you feel like you’re being quizzed relentlessly, there might be an ulterior motive, but if the questions prompt you to reveal details about your business that you’ve been wanting to promote, the person standing opposite you could be a very beneficial contact indeed.
We hope these tips help you find the most valuable networking contacts. They’re out there!
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