There were some great questions about networking techniques at the end of a Cleveland Area Networking meeting recently, and I will tackle some of those questions later. For this month, I want to explain what information to capture from a networking event or at a 1-2-1 and some useful things to do with that information. I'll tackle event notes first.
I've been to events where I took zero notes. More often, I attend events where I capture many notes about the other people in attendance. You may see others furiously taking notes as each person does their presentation. After everyone is done, you may have heard 20+ commercials, and it would be challenging to recall who does what or would benefit from an introduction to whomever.
So, collecting some basic information and thoughts about each person you encounter will help you become a better networker. I personally write (on paper, not type on my phone or computer):
each person's name
the business they represent
a reminder about what they do (if it's not obvious from their business)
a tip about what they are looking for
Those four items help me more easily remember who was in attendance, and the act of writing helps me retain the information. I save these pages for review later, and I actually do review them occasionally - especially when someone asks me "who do you know who..." questions and I remember I encountered someone who solves that particular problem.
Since networking is also about creating referrals for others, as they do their commercials, I am marking my list with other information:
If I would like to schedule a 1-2-1 with that person so I can learn more about what they do and find a way to assist them, I put an asterisk next to their name
If I think of someone who might be a good referral for that person, I write a note of who it might be and put an asterisk next to their name.
I can reach out those with notes and asterisks after the meeting, get their contact info from them (if they are in a hurry to leave) or schedule a future 1-2-1 meeting with them before they go. If I get the chance to approach them about my potential referral, I'll tell them why I thought the person might be a good connection for them, and ask for permission to have my referral contact them directly.
Come learn the skills you need to really make your networking effective. Networking Skills: How-To and Practice Workshops are available from The Job Search Center.
Jeff Hexter is sought out for networking coaching throughout Northeast Ohio. He and Sue Nelson, Founding Director of The Job Search Center offer these practice and coaching sessions, which are open to all professionals in transition, entrepreneurs, freelancers, business development and relationship sales people. Groups are kept small so we can give lots of personal attention. Please register for the next session early.