Below is my October article that I wrote for MidwestBusiness.com.
"How to Become Memorable When Business Networking"
We all attend many events throughout the year. As a result, we meet an abundance of professionals with only a sliver of these people actually becoming part of our network.
In order to increase the likelihood of converting many of these first-time encounters into solid relationships, you need to set yourself apart at an event and make sure you are memorable. If you follow some of the below suggestions, you will be on your way to developing more relationships.
Wear Your Nametag Proudly
First impressions are very important. Make sure you come across professionally at all times. Even before you speak to someone, you will be judged by your appearance.
Don’t let your appearance hurt your chances of getting a first conversation. You need to make sure your shoes are polished, your hair is combed, your clothes are not stained and you are dressed appropriately for the event. All of these things are important for making a good impression.
You will be amazed at how many people are not put together professionally at an event. If you’re not sure what type of attire to wear, contact the event organizer or just wear professional attire. You can never go wrong by looking too professional.
Another important component of your appearance is the controversial nametag. Many people don’t like wearing nametags. Whether you like wearing one or not, you should definitely wear it proudly. The nametag helps break the ice and shows that you are more inclined to a conversation.
If you are one of the few people at an event not wearing a nametag, you will come across as someone who doesn’t care as much about building relationships, is above wearing a nametag or is not as professional.
The last thing you want to portray is that you are better than everyone else or you are not as professional. There are obviously exceptions to not wearing nametags.
For example, if you are the host of an event, most people will already know you so you could probably skip the nametag. However, I would still recommend that you wear one because not everyone will know you. Plus, you want to set a good example.
Another important component of the nametag is that you need to wear it in the correct position. If you are given a clip or pin nametag, the correct position is high and to the right. As most people don’t know this, make sure you get this one right.
Lastly, it’s also a good idea to have your own nametag that you can take from event to event. This will guarantee that you will always have something to wear in case the event organizers don’t have nametags or mess up your name. Get creative here and create a nametag that people will remember.
Scribble on Your Business Card
When you attend a networking event, you will likely collect as many cards as you give. For most people, more cards will be collected than relationships built. Most likely you do not follow up with everyone you meet. On the flip side, most of the people you meet do not follow up with you.
Spend less time trying to work the entire room and more time on getting to know a few people really well. If you can walk away with a couple good contacts you can work toward building a new relationship, you are better off. Less is more in relationship building.
Many of the benefits of networking will come from a few strong contacts within your network. Make sure you nurture these relationships so it’s a win-win on both ends.
One technique to make yourself more memorable and to give you a better chance of follow up is to write a note on your business card before you hand it to someone. We often give our cards out after a conversation and this gives you the opportunity to scribble a note on your card.
For example, if you mentioned a particular Web site, write down the URL on your business card.
If you offered to make a referral, write this person’s name on your card. This technique is important because your card will stand out from the pile of cards collected. Also, the notes will be a reminder about why this person should follow up with you.
Be the Nice Person That You Are
In order to connect with people and feel comfortable doing so, just be yourself.
Treat each relationship as if you are building a friendship. Building a friendship before a business relationship can make it much easier for you to develop a long-term relationship. Most people enjoy doing business with people who they consider their friends.
Focus on being the genuine person you are when talking with people. Don’t try to sell yourself or your business in this first encounter because it can be the kiss of the death.
In addition, make an effort to ask good questions and even offer to help. Your kindness will not go unnoticed. Be sincere when talking with people by showing a genuine interest in what is said. Don’t interrupt people when they are talking because you don’t want to come across as rude.
Treat every person with the same kind of respect you would like even if you don’t connect.
You never know when you may reconnect with some of these people in the future. So long as you are yourself and a genuinely nice person, you will have no problem meeting people. You will notice that most people are nice. Make sure you are one of these individuals.
Branding yourself is so important for building relationships. Part of personal branding is making yourself known and remembered. Take the necessary steps to make this happen. It is worth the extra effort.
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