Home > Personal, Uncategorized > IRL – In Real Life – Don’t Forget Face to Face Networking

IRL – In Real Life – Don’t Forget Face to Face Networking

7K0A0438Many people are great using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to communicate with others.  But often forgotten is the old fashion way of networking, Face to Face, or connecting offline (i.e. events).  Online networking is great at connecting but in real life (IRL) connecting is best for solidifying relationships.  Combine your online connecting with your face to face connecting.

These IRL events could include the following:

  • Chamber networking events
  • LinkedIn local group events
  • Twitter local tweet ups
  • Alumni Groups (School, Fraternity, Previous Companies)
  • One on One meetings (meetings at coffee houses or lunches)
  • Association meetings

It is important now more than ever to get out and meet other people.  Relationships and who you know is still how things happen such as job opportunities, sales opportunities, vendor selection, etc.   Get  out there, socialize and get to know people.

Lets discuss finding the IRL events:

  • Be open to all possibilities. Accept every invitation you get and angle for invitations you’re not presently getting. Make it a habit to say “Yes” to invitations. And accept them with pleasure. You never know what event will be the one to land that job or land that big sales opportunity or meet that person that will be your friend for life.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.  Don’t only go to certain types of events.  If you do that then you will only meet the same people or same type of people.  Meeting diverse people is important.
  • Find events that attract people you would like to get to know.  Try an event and decide if it is one that you want to attend again.  Don’t waste your time and money if the event is not for you.
  • Read the free weeklies that publish event calendars.  Read the journals in your industry.  These journals will mention events that are in your area.  These are great places to meet and establish relationships of others in your industry.
  • I am a big fan of  the local Chamber of Commerce.  Chambers have events that you do not have to be a member of to attend.  These events are great places to meet business owners that are interested in expanding their business.   And sometimes the Chamber website has a calendar of events in the area.  If they do, then check it for possible events to attend.
  • Get involved in professional, alumni and/or social clubs.  If you went to a local college I am sure there are regular alumni meetings.
  • Use the internet to find local events.
  • Spread out your events.  Remember family time and personal time is important so don’t over do the networking events but make sure that you allocated some time for them.  Maybe 1 night a week is the proper frequency.

OK, now you are going to events and meeting people in real life.  What should you do at these events?  Here are some tips:

  • Be remember-able.  Make sure that you have something unique to say so that people you meet will remember you.  Practice you 1 minute elevator pitch so that when people ask you what you do or want, you have a quick, clear, memorable answer.
  • Be attentive to whoever  you are talking to at these events.  Show that you’re listening by making eye contact, devoting your full attention, nodding your understanding, asking questions and commenting with your ideas.
  • Make sure you have business cards to hand out and get business cards from those you meet.  The purpose of meeting people is to establish a relationship with them.  If you don’t know how to make contact with them afterwards then you have wasted your effort.
  • If during your conversation with someone you determine that you want to continue the relationship with, make sure you ask for the next step.  Ask the person if you can meet later or if you can forward some information to them.
  • Have fun.  Put on a happy face.  People like to be around fun and happy people.  They will remember you and want to continue the relationship if you are a happy individual.

After events make sure that you follow up.  Send emails to people that you met the day before.  Next day follow up is key.  Sometimes it is asking for a meeting such as one to one at a local coffee shop.  Sometimes it is just a thanks for talking.  Sometimes it is sending them information that they might need.  Sometimes it is a LinkedIn connection request.

Put these IRL networking tips into practice the next time you attend a meeting or event, and don’t be surprised if you will quickly add to your network of contacts.  Feel free to comment back on your IRL networking suggestions.

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