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  • Marcus Teoh

How to MAXIMIZE your ROI at a NETWORKING DINNER

If you are attending a relatively large networking event, there is a high chance you will meet someone who is interesting or you could work closely with. Almost everyone who attends a business networking event has the intention to grow their business and most will hope that they acquire some business or customers.

Networking Dinner

In a networking event I once hosted with more than fifty participants, I asked who came today to get more business. More than 90% raised their hands. Then I asked, who came today to make a purchase? There was nobody who raise a hand. This is a common scenario where everyone hopes to sell something but nobody came to buy anything. How do you make the best out of your networking time so it returns the maximum R.O.I. (return on investment)?

Here is a list of recommendations that I found very helpful and mistakes that one could make:

Networking Recommendations:

1) Introduce Yourself Well. Know how to introduce yourself so you stand out. A poor self-introduction just makes one boring, e.g. “Hi I am a real estate agent, I sell properties”. A better version would be “Hi, I help medical professionals find their dream homes in the KLCC area”. Specific keywords and mentioning of your target market makes you more memorable.

2) Arrive early. When you are early you will meet others who are early. You already left a positive impression not only with those who arrive early and more importantly the organizers. The organizers will be able to grant you access to almost everyone present and they most likely know who can help you with your pursuits.

3) Ask the people you meet about them first, instead of rushing to promote yourself, your products or services. Be an attractive personality not a hardworking salesman.

4) Know what you want. Everyone wants to expand business but when someone asks you, “How can I help you?” do you have a solid answer? A good answer leads to the other saying, “No problem. Let me connect you to….” or “Here is how how you can achieve that”. Being clear of what you want differentiates you from the rest, where some just show up for food and drinks.

5) Dress well and appropriately. The way we look attracts. Plan well and always remember, you could meet your dream client, business partner or investor unexpectedly.

6) Take a wefie together and add on Facebook so you have chance to connect later and you would remember this person well later. Adding on Facebook also helps you to know what this new friend is going through in his/her personal life and business if he/she shares. Your conversation would be a lot more engaging.

7) Follow up for business cards you received, send a Whatsapp message to say “hi” and highlight what he/she told you, not asking them to remember your products/services and call you. That’s what most salesman do. When you are able to repeat what was shared, it shows that you listened well and you cared about him/her.

8) Get to know the organizer. They are your resource center for further connections. Develop a relationship with the organizer and the person who invited you so you will be invited again. Remember to thank them.

9) Help out whenever and wherever you can. Put up signs, set up the table or help carry stuff if the organizers are open to get your help. Such gestures are great in breaking the ice and developing relationships.

Networking Mistakes:

1) Hanging out with just old friends. Surrounding yourself with people you already know is the best way to waste your networking time. We attend networking events to expand our networks. If it was a friend’s gathering it can be done elsewhere. Get comfortable being uncomfortable by meeting new people.

2) Not a business card distribution competition. A networking event is not an event for you to distribute as many business cards as possible. Your business cards have no value if you did not have an engaging conversation with the people you meet. People first, card second.

3) Aggressive marketing. Avoid blasting company profile or product brochures to a new person (Whatsapp/Email) you have just met. This positions you unfavourably, almost like a desperate salesman. Send only if requested. Or if you must send, it is always good to ask for permission first.

4) Making food and drinks a priority means you missed golden opportunities to meet some amazing individuals whom you may not get another chance easily. Network instead of “neteat” or “netsit”.

Delicious food at networking event can be distracting sometimes :)

Networking is a must for any business people to build relationships to achieve their end goals. Learn the art, enjoy the process and celebrate your success that comes eventually. It is a journey.

"Your network is your net worth, only if you work it"

To grow your business via networking, visit: Professional Networking Group

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