When you come away from networking who do you follow-up with? I am hoping it’s someone…! A potential client, a potential collaborator, someone you just liked?
How important is it to you that you ‘like’ someone in order to follow-up? If I’m realistic, if it’s a good potential client, you probably care far less about whether or how much you ‘like’ them (you rarely walk away from networking with a client immediately by the way). However, without an immediate, obvious reason to build a relationship with someone such as them being a strong potential client, the desire to ‘like’ someone is greater. So the need to be ‘likeable’ at events is clearly important to make sure you have high chances of people being willing to build a professional relationship with you.
What you definitely want to do is avoid putting people off from following up with you after a networking event. I often talk about being positively memorable, that is really important, but even more important is not being negatively memorable!
What To Avoid
I’ve done a lot of networking in recent weeks and here are just 3 of the actions to definitely avoid:
- Arriving at an event looking like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You might, but do you think sighing and slumped, negative body language will encourage others to engage with you and remember you positively? Try to take a moment before you enter the event and leave your negativity outside.
- Looking at your phone when you are talking to someone. The reality is we all have lots going on and often need to be contactable and check our phones. There are ways to do this politely, just getting your phone out whilst talking to someone with no apology/explanation is not one of them. You just make the person feel like you are bored of them.
- Finally, my favourite. Asking someone for a business card immediately you speak to them and putting them on your mailing list without them showing any interest in being on it or without you asking them. This is extremely rude, no effort is being made to build a relationship, the person just becomes a name on a database with a potential £ sign next to them. Just because someone has given you a business card, it does not mean they should go on your company database unless they have clearly said they are happy to be added. All this will lead to is renewed resentment whenever your email arrives in their inbox which means they are highly unlikely to ever buy from you anyway.
These behaviours are negative marketing for you and the company/organisation you represent.
What Should You Do
You need to be positively memorable; many of the ways to do this are not rocket science and include simple things such as:
- Making sure you give the other person time to speak and you really listen.
- Wearing something that stands out a bit so people remember you visually.
- Open body language and a smile.
If you make people feel valued, that goes a long way to them liking you and remembering you.