Nervous about going to a networking meeting? Here’s how to prepare…

You’ve been told that networking meetings are a great way to get more referrals. And after much consideration, you’ve reluctantly agreed to give networking a try. Even though you’re just a teeeensy bit nervous about the whole thing.

This quick guide will show you how to prepare for your networking meetings

1. Write your blurb in advance. Most networking meeting groups will give you a slot of 60 seconds or thereabouts for you to make your pitch to the group. Rather than risk fluffing your lines, write something in advance – and time it.

2. Smile! No matter how nervous you might be, smile! You’ll find that people will come up to you and chat. And it’s much more inviting for people to approach a smiley person, than one that’s looking grumpy or moody or terrified.

Besides, if you smile, you’ll probably begin to feel more confident too!

3. Introduce yourself. Don’t wait for other people to approach you; go up to them! Breaking the ice is easy; just ask what they do; who their clients are; where they’re based. Remember, everyone is here to talk business and to get to know more people.

4. Bring lots of business cards. Yes, bring a big stack of them with you. There might be a card folder or box for you to put the business cards into. Otherwise, don’t just hand them out willy-nilly – that’s the equivalent of spam. Instead, hand them out selectively to people you’ve talked to.

5. Follow up. Did you meet some interesting contacts? Follow them up and arrange to meet them over a coffee. Building relationships (and trust) takes time – certainly more than a 60 second sales pitch. If you’re prepared to put some extra effort into the networking outside of the meeting, you’ll see results far sooner.

6. Be patient. If you’re after instant results, networking meetings are the wrong tactic for you. Building enough trust to gain referrals takes time; people have to get to know you.  It’s more about nurturing relationships, and helping other people; giving in order to gain.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be all set to go… so remember to relax, enjoy… and smile!