How to Work a Room

 

Each time you attend a networking event, chamber lunch or continuing education training session you have the opportunity to meet new people and ultimately enhance your personal brand image.

I was recently talking to a real estate woman about her business and she mentioned that she wasn’t really comfortable promoting herself.

“When I go to a networking event, I am just not really good at leading with my business card to let people know who I am, who I help and how I help them.”

Well, that isn’t really such a bad thing. We can all pick out the person that attends those events for the purpose of collecting as many business cards as possible and then adding you to an email list and inundating you with promotional sales messages.

 I think women are really good at making friends and not good at networking. Men are good at networking and not necessarily making friends. That’s a gross generalization, but I think it holds in many ways. Madeleine Albright

On a scale of 1-10 chances that person is building any real connections? They don’t even make the chart!

Which would you rather do:

  • Collect a lot of business cards but not really make any connections?
  • Meet and spend time with two or three people and learn more about them and their business?

“Working a room” has a little different meaning than it may have had a few years ago. When you attend a function, go with the purpose of meeting someone and truly understanding who they help so that you can refer them later. When you go with the attitude of helping others, you will become known for a few really great traits:

  • Listener – in order to know about someone else and their job you have to ask questions and listen to their answers.
  • Connector – inevitably once you understand their role in business, you’ll think of someone that they should meet and so you’ll say something like “Have you met so and so? I think you two need to know each other.”
  • Coordinator – now you are not only helping the person you are talking but also the person you introduce them to; whether at that current event or later via email or LinkedIn.
  • Networker – the more you do this, the more people you meet and truly understand how they help others and so when people ask you if you know someone who can xyz – you’ll have a name. You become the go-to person for knowledge.

People remember those that truly listen and help them along with their business. Soon they will ask you about your business.  “Gosh, thank for your help. So what is it that YOU do?” Now all of a sudden, others are helping to promote you rather that you promoting yourself.

Be prepared with a quick, bottom line, easily repeatable answer. How do you want to be known. I help ___ achieve ___. Make it easy for this new person in your life to refer you to the right target prospect.

At the end of the evening you may only come home with two new business cards, but they are attached to two people that you have made a real connection with and vice versa. Follow through by sending them a personalized LinkedIn invitation and even an email with any information you have that might be of value to them.

And that is how you world a room!  Thoughts?