By Jeff Beals
“Well, okay. It was great to meet you!” your discussion partner says as he drifts away from you and onto the next person holding a drink with a little square napkin underneath it.
And so ends another one of those superficial discussions at the after-work mixer, the quintessential networking cocktail party.
You know you need to network. You’ve been hearing about the value of networking ever since you started your career.
You’ve heard that the best clients are found only through relationship building, meeting people face-to-face and striking up a conversation. You’ve heard that three-quarters of all jobs are never advertised and found only by tapping into the professional grapevine.
You’ve heard stories about brilliant ideas and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities other people have found because they met the right person at a networking event.
Perhaps you have enjoyed some success networking, or maybe your networking efforts may have left you unfulfilled and underwhelmed. Whichever the case, networking should be as enjoyable as possible while being efficient and effective.
Networking serves multiple purposes and provides many professional benefits, but among the most important are name recognition and personal-brand familiarity. In other words, you want the people you meet at networking events to remember you and then think of your name and face when an opportunity comes up for which you would be perfect.
While that makes sense, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I estimate that 75 percent or more of the people you meet at a cocktail mixer will forget your name within three minutes of your conversation ending.
But there is a way you can make yourself more memorable and thus make your networking more beneficial to your career: Give every person you meet a valuable leave-behind.
Now, I’m not talking about a tangible item. I’m talking about an intangible item of value. It should be an interesting fact, piece of trivia, joke, humorous story, rumor, a behind-the-scenes piece of did-you-know insight.
The valuable leave-behind acts as a stinger, a climax, and exclamation point to our discussion. It makes you memorable. The person leaves the conversation with a positive feeling and a much greater likelihood that he or she will remember your name and what you do.
Whatever you choose as a valuable leave-behind, the key is for it to be fascinating, and just as important, related to who you are professionally and what you do for a living.
Think about your business and career. What things are fascinating about it to people who don’t do what you do? Once you determine this, think of some imagination-captivating stuff the average person wouldn’t know and memorize it. Go to your next networking event armed with this highly effective discussion tool. Have at least a handful of valuable leave-behinds, so you can choose the one that’s right for a given person and conversation.
Make yourself memorable in a desirable way. If you fail to do this, your networking efforts are essentially all for naught.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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