I’m the co-founder of a networking group called ironically enough THE Networking Group. The focus of the organization is putting a vetted group of business owners and service providers together in a room to network. (It always works well when we have everyone in the same room.)
Financial advisors, insurance agents, bankers, attorneys, consultants, coaches, techies, title closers, accountants, you name it. Pretty much every industry, profession, market segment, and niche you can imagine.
The event begins like most events with attendees registering at the front desk, taking their name badges, and heading to the bar for a drink and then some food. Basic stuff.
Then the meeting comes to order and all attendees go to a pre-determined table to sit and engage in a facilitated networking activity.
If I don’t mind saying so myself, it’s awesome!
For this model to work, there must be rules. Rules, baby!
Here are the Networking Rules of Engagement we discuss at the beginning of each meeting to insure a safe, fun, and profitable networking environment.
No Selling Ever
Networking is about learning and helping. That’s it! The event is not a sales meeting, it’s a networking event. That means that nobody in that room should be a prospect – unless they are! The purpose of the event is not to sell your products and services to those in attendance. The people you meet at the event are there to network and promote their businesses too! Learning, helping!
Collecting business cards to add to your newsletter or blog without permission is spamming. Nobody appreciates spamming so it’s best not to do it. When someone spams you, what impression do they leave? Simply ask others you might meet if they would be interested in receiving your communication. Also, ask yourself why they should receive it? Are they in your target market? Do you have a target market? So many questions.
Or Tweeting, Snapchatting, Instagramming, Facebooking, emailing, Tic-tocking, or whatever the kids do these days to avoid talking to you. When networking, especially in a table group when someone is addressing the group, it might be considered rude to not pay attention. Again, what impression do you want to leave with those you meet?
Trick or treat? Yes, Follow Up is allowed, encouraged, and an approach that should absolutely be a part of your networking acumen. You should Follow Up! Not with everyone you meet but with those conversations that should be continued because there is a good reason to do so. “It seems there are some ways we can help one another. Does it make sense to continue our dialogue? Let’s exchange business cards and I promise to email you tomorrow to coordinate. How does that sound?”
The Rules of Engagement are designed to help networkers engage! Without engaging and connecting with others, nothing good will happen next.
How will you be better engaged in your next networking encounter?
Let me know!read more