Last night I was at a Chamber Christmas event. It was a festive atmosphere with 2 hours of open networking, lots of fantastic food was being served, some games were creating loud laughter, exciting draws, and everyone was having a great time connecting.
I was approached by someone that was confused by the focus of the meeting. He had come with business cards but he didn’t expect to use them? When he was talking with someone they interrupted him to get his card.
“Should I have started by giving him my card? Why was he asking me for my card, this isn’t business time? What was the purpose of being here anyway, this isn’t a normal networking event, this is a Christmas party?” were his questions.
I explained that even in “normal networking” events your goal is not to see how many cards you can hand out, so you should never be giving out your card unless someone asks for it, with the exception when you want to follow up with the person, but only after you get their card first.
Networking can happen at any event and it is always about the relationships. You goal is to create a relationship for the future when that person recognizes they need what you are offering and see you as the person they would call to get that support or purchase from. To create this type of response they have to know what you do in a way that will fulfill their needs and wants; the benefit – not your features.
So, always be connecting with people, talk about your benefits and be thankful that someone is asking for your business card, no matter what the event. If they need to connect with you outside the festivities then you have done something right to create the relationship that may lead to business.
What places have you done business that would been seen as non-traditional networking.