Not all networking happens at events. Some of the most effective networking you can do happens over coffee meetings. One-on-one catch ups, whether they’re in real life or virtual, give you a chance to really connect without the distractions of being in a big crowd.
A networking meeting is more likely to be effective if it’s clear why it’s happening. Are you looking for a mentor, or a new position? Has the person been recommended to you? Maybe you’re new in town and looking to connect with peers. Do you want to establish a collaborative partnership or joint venture for your business?
If it’s a get-to-know-you meeting, it’s okay to talk about common interests like books, movies, or sports. Sometimes it is those personal interests that solidify a relationship, so don’t be shy and leave them out.
Do your research and identify leaders that you really want to connect with. Be clear about where you want to be in a year, five years’ time and seek out the people who can help you get there. Part of the point of networking is not just the people you meet, but the people they know who can help you grow your own network.
If you have changed jobs, sectors, or towns, connecting with the right people can help you hit the ground running.
If you are growing your business, know how you want to grow and identify the key people that can benefit your network. It is not all about selling, it is about building relationships. People do business with people that they — >> KNOW, LIKE and TRUST!!
A networking meeting isn’t just about what you can get out of the other person – there has to be some benefit for them too. Think about what you can offer. What are your special skills or connections? Do you have acquaintances or experiences in common? Pay the other person the respect of doing some background research so you know where they’re from, and what their career path and big projects have been.
Remember this person has made time for you in their day. Be respectful of that and keep to the agreed time (don’t be late!). Don’t hog the conversation, and make sure the meeting doesn’t go over time, unless the other person is keen to keep talking. Give them your business card, but don’t hand over your resume unless it’s requested.
Be polite during your meeting and remember to follow up within twenty-four hours with a brief email thanking them for taking time out to talk. Hand written notes are a nice touch as well and will stand out as no one is sending cards!!
If you committed to sending an article or book reference, remember to follow up. You want this first meeting to set the tone for a future meaningful relationship. If it feels appropriate you could connect on LinkedIn.
These networking tips are just a few ideas to maximize the benefits of your one-on-one networking meetings.