How To Be Effective At Business Networking (Guide)
In this article you’re going to find out how to effectively go to a marketing event, with lots of successful people, and meet and introduce yourself to them. Not only that, but you’ll find out how to build connections with them that are actually valuable. You can meet millionaires, billionaires, and lots of successful business owners, and leave a lasting good impression with all of them.
First of all, when I go to events, I don’t just go to them to experience good emotions. I’m not there to shakes hands, check out who’s there and just look at them from a distance. I’m going there with a very specific purpose. For example, I may be looking for more clients. Or I may be looking to learn very specific things, from industry experts, that I’ll be able to apply to my business. Or I may even just want to introduce people to each other.
When done correctly, this will benefit other people and it will also increase my own social standing. I do this by leveraging people I know. I introduce them to other people, which always ends up in me meeting more people than I would otherwise. In the future, I may need these relationships. For example, a certain relationship might be useful for a course that I’m creating or maybe I’m looking for a very specific type of client. The trick is that all of that is in the future.
The main thing that you need to remember is to begin creating this network before you actually need it. If you start after you need it, then you’ll go to the event and you’ll have very needy behavior. You’ll feel like you have to establish some new relationships that day. At the event you might say things like:
“Please, let me work for you for free.”
“Please, let me be your friend.”
Obviously this is not a good way to go about networking. People are going to have a kneejerk reaction against this and you’re hardly going to get anywhere. Perhaps some people will take pity on you and offer you a job. As a rule though, you don’t want to go to these events with this kind of frame. It’s much better to go to these events with a frame of: I just want to establish relationships, introduce people with each other, build up my network and give value.
Meeting the Correct Person
Also, when I go to these events, I’m looking to meet very specific people. Before I go to an event, I look up exactly who is going to be there that I want to meet. I always want to know who is going to be there. If it’s a smaller event, maybe I can find an online list of speakers and attendees. Or if it’s a bigger event, I speak to people who I know who have already been to this event in the past, and they tell me who is going to be there.
This is how you can meet very prestigious, high end speakers. If you know a certain person is going to be there, then you can get your friend to introduce you. This is great, because often at these events, after a speaker walks off stage he is mobbed by people who want to meet him. If you have a backdoor, so to speak, you don’t have to join this mob. You can wait until later and your friend will introduce you. All of this is not very hard to do.
The secret afterparty is another good way to meet these speakers. In fact, the big secret of the secret afterparty, is that it’s not secret at all. Everyone can get invited if they know how. All you need to do is speak to the person who is organizing the event. If he sees that you’re a person who understands reciprocity, and understands value giving, then he’s going to invite you to the afterparty. There, you’ll be able to meet these high end speakers.
So imagine that you’re at this event, and everyone is either awkwardly standing together, or walking around from stand to stand. In this case, what are you going to do? My personal preference is to go and talk to as many people as possible. Obviously if there are hundreds or even thousands of people there, then I don’t know everyone in the room, and I certainly don’t want to establish a relationship with every single person. That would take so long that it would literally take over my entire life. I would have to go into event creation myself just to do stuff like that.
Building a Relationship
Regardless of the size of the event, I always want to meet a very specific five to ten percent of people there. How do I find out who I want to meet? The answer is volume. It’s just like sales or cold calling. Go and introduce yourself. Find out who someone is and what they do for a living. If you see a point where you can give value, or you can sell something to them, or you can introduce them to someone, then get their business card. Scan it into Evernote (a telephone app) and make a little note of what you can do for them. Then continue doing this over and over. At some point, if you find a very valuable lead for something, then spend more time with this person. You can invite them to have dinner with you or to meet up afterwards. You can even invite them to come over to your office or invite them to do a call because you’re offering a service that may benefit them.
By doing this, you can set a up a relationship right then and there. Spend somewhere around thirty minutes on small talk as well, just to solidify the relationship with the person. This is only if it’s a very high value lead though. Otherwise, I prefer to spend about fifteen minutes speaking with a person. Or if the person is in a completely different industry and I really don’t know what to do with them, then I have a very simple five minute conversation.
The key here is that even if this person is not necessarily someone you want to establish a relationship with, you should still treat them as if you’re only there to talk to them. Even if it’s only for five minutes, they should feel like you’re only there to talk to them personally. Make them feel super special during those five minutes. That way, even though other people are on the stage, you’re going to be the celebrity at the event. People will reciprocate your good vibes, and your ability to make them feel special.
Other Networking Options
A good way to practice this, apart from actually going to these larger events which can be expensive, is to join clubs. For example you can join Toastmasters. There, you’re going to be speaking onstage and learning how to give public presentations. This is a very valuable skill, and eventually you may even get invited to speak at an event. You can suggest to different people that you’d like to be a speaker at their event.
Start with smaller events, get introduced to other organizers if you do a good job, and just spread the word about yourself. It’s actually relatively easy to do this, especially if you have decent content and you’re not too nervous presenting it on stage. Some people even just have one presentation that they give over and over again. Once you get on stage, then everyone wants to meet you and you’re automatically celebrity status.
Another option is to go out and join something like a salsa club. Even though it’s unrelated to business, you’re still going to learn how to talk to people and how to network. Generally, people who go to Salsa clubs are quite well off. At least people who were at the salsa clubs that I’ve been to in Belgium. They typically own a business or a have a high paying job.
Ultimately, your goal is always to create meaningful relationships with people. What you really want to do is to establish little clubs, where you refer him and he refers you. Also, when you’re talking to someone new, you should always be saying “do you know him?” and you should always be saying good stuff about people. Do not ever gossip, do not ever say bad stuff about other people at events or while networking with people. Always be positive and say positive things about other people. If you have good emotions yourself, people will want to talk to you. You can do this by talking about positive things and by talking about the good in people and the good things that they’ve done for someone else. This works especially well if it’s relatable to the person that you’re talking to.
How to Get a Meeting
I’d like to go into a little bit more detail about what to do when you want to meet a specific person at the event. Maybe you just want to talk or maybe you have a business proposition for them. To do this, there is a slightly different approach. Of course, you should still apply everything I just said before, but here is something else that is going to help you.
First off, you need to know that they’re going to be at the event. You can’t be gambling on finding them, simply by going to all sorts of different marketing events. You need to know that they are going to be on the guestlist or on the speaker list. Also, these events are usually quite pricey, so you probably can’t afford to randomly be going to them. You can call a person’s office to confirm that they are definitely going to be at a certain event.
Once you know that they’re going to be at an event, then you start your research. Your research can go in multiple different directions. You definitely need to go onto Amazon and look up what they’ve written, what they know and what they’re an expert in. Also, look up on LinkedIn what their current business is and what they’re currently working on. This last point is very important. You should also find out who they know. You might even find out that you have a mutual friend. If you do have this mutual friend, your life is going to be a million times easier because you can already connect before the event even happens, and say lets meet up at the event. Now that I have a fairly large network I do this all the time. It works great and you can meet really successful people like this.
Now that you have that knowledge, you can now go to their Facebook. It’s kind of sneaky but it works really well. Plus, nobody has a personal Facebook anymore, especially if they are semi-famous or actually famous. So once you know all the details then you know what they like to talk about and what they’re working on. Maybe they’re writing a book right now and they’re going to be very interested in getting interviewed. Or, maybe they’re looking for a certain solution to a certain problem right now and you can help with that. If that’s the case, then they will definitely want to talk to you. Even if you don’t have a solution to a problem that they have, you still know what they like to talk about and you know the subject matter that they are familiar with. You know which company to talk about, which business to talk about and what mutual friends or acquaintances to bring up. Once you have that established, you go to the event and you meet up with them.
Building a Network from the Ground Up
If you have zero connections, zero mutual acquaintances, then the easiest way to meet them is to help organize the event. If you’re helping to organize the event, then you’ll be able to meet everyone without any problem at all. You’re there before hours, you’re there after hours and you’ll be able to meet anyone you want to.
For example, I once helped to organize an event in New York. I met Tim Ferris, Michael Ellsberg, Ryan Holiday and all sorts of other people, no problem. I just did one little thing at the event, it wasn’t a big deal at all. Afterwards I got to meet all these people at a private party where there wasn’t anyone to interrupt our conversation. It was awesome!
You can do the same thing. You don’t need any special skills, you don’t need to be an expert in marketing to do that. All you need to do is to help out. Or, if you are an expert in marketing you can use this as well. If you send the event details to your email list, you’re going to be a special guest. The thing is, you may think, why would they need my help? Well if you call the company organizing the event, you’ll find out that these guys are always freaking out. When I used to help at events, I saw that everything was always going wrong. There are always emergencies and they are always lacking competent people.
If you call them and offer your services for free, they’re going to be very grateful to you. This is a great way to get your foot in the door. You can even do this if you’re eighteen and still in high school. Plus, once you’ve done it once, you can do it again. You know the guy, you can get into different events, and you can even go to different cities. You’ll end up meeting celebrity status people and gaining a lot of value along the way.
Imagine you talk to your person and then you establish that you’re going to talk again in the future. They’re probably going to give you their office phone number, their secretary’s phone number or maybe their email. Then, if you don’t already have a day and time established, you need to make sure that you call them on a consistent basis. You need to be persistent, but you should never annoy this person. You can simply remind the person that you’ve already established that you’re going to meet up, and then you can keep reminding them to make it happen. They’ll say things like next month, or call me in half a year. Call them every ten days or every two weeks, or even every month, depending on who it is. Just build it up, build it up, build it up.
What happens is that people really appreciate that persistence. If you can be persistent, and you don’t give up, that means that they will want to meet you. That’s generally how it works. I’ve met many successful people and they tell me all the time, wow man you were so persistent that I just had to do it.
Most people give up. They don’t have the persistence to call someone for half a year. The thing is though, if you really want to meet someone, if you really badly want to interview them for a YouTube channel, it’s absolutely worth it to call someone. It takes a few hours over a period of a few months, it’s nothing really. It’s totally worth it, I guarantee you.
Building a Personal Brand
The final tip that I’m going to give you is actually very important. You need to have one sentence that people will remember you by. For example, Aleksander Vitkin, the event organizer. Once you have that, then you need to implant this sentence into your story, so that you’re saying this once or twice in a conversation. That means people will know you as more than just a random guy. They’ll know you as Aleksander Vitkin, the marketer, the event organizer, the sales coach, and so on. You need to have that sentence attached to your name, and you need to slowly build your brand, piece by piece. Then the next time you meet someone, he’s going to be like:
“Oh it’s you! You’re so and so and you do this.”
You can then say “yes, thank you for remembering.” Of course this is not a coincidence that they remembered you. You are working to build that brand. So even if you’re in sales, and you’re not on YouTube, this is still valuable.
That’s about it. That’s what I have to share with you about meeting really successful people at events. Also, you can use this advice with cold calling. It will be harder, but it really works well. You can meet almost anyone using this strategy.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you’d like more free content on business, marketing and entrepreneurship, please check out my YouTube channel.