We are wrapping down our series of the 10 Commandments of Networking a Mixer, today with Commandment #8: Spend 10 Minutes or Less with Each Person You Meet and Avoid Lingering with Friends and Associates. (If you missed our previous commandments, start by checking out the last commandment, #7)
Too often when networking, people have a tendency to meet a potential client or referral source, and then spend the rest of their time speaking to a single person. Remember, the goal of attending a networking event is to book a meeting from the meeting, reaching the goals you set for yourself in Commandment #2: Set a Goal for the Number and Type of People You Want to Meet.
As you met people who interest you, who have the potential to be a client or referral source, immediately book the next meeting, then move on to meeting additional people, until you have reached your goal.
While networking, don’t try to close business deals; it is impractical and networking and selling do not mix. You may be able to increase your business with a hot prospect if you take the time to fully understand their needs.
The best way to follow this commandment, and keep your conversations under 10 minutes, is to utilize the funneling conversation (additional information on the Funneling Conversation can be found in Tiffanie Kellog’s Your Funneling Conversation: Getting the Prospect to Say YES) and asking questions from Commandment #5.
You will be surprised at how easy it is to quickly move through a conversation when you go into a networking event with intention.
The second half of this commandment is not to linger with friends and associates. While it is great to catch up with people you have not seen recently, if you spend all your time with people you have already know, you miss the opportunity to meet new people.
A favorite question is “How do you leave the conversation once you feel it is over?”
- Let the person you are speaking to know it was great to meet him, and you know he is looking to meet more people, and you want to give them the time to do so.
- Visit the buffet line or get a drink
- Point over their shoulder and yell “Dilapidated Ostrich” and run away (okay, I am joking here)
- Tell the person you are networking with that a professional you want to be sure to connect with just came open, and you want to catch her
- Introduce the person you are networking with to someone else at the event
- Excuse yourself to the restroom
Do be honest and polite as you leave the conversation, as you never know who you might run into them later that evening, they may be sitting next to you at your table, or moving in next door!
Which is your preferred way to leave a conversation???