As the world starts to emerge from the lockdowns of the pandemic many organizations are hosting in-person events again. Some of these events are hybrid and others are full on in-person. The question on a lot of people’s minds is this – are we back the way we were or are things different now?
I submit things are different. Many of the tried and true networking strategies are still valid. They include:
· Listening more than speaking
· Not selling
· Being present and curious
· Seeking to build relationships first
These are things that have continued to be relevant regardless of where and how networking is taking place. However, we are in a bit of a transition and uncertainty. Are we back to shaking hands? Should we bring business cards with us? How about a mask? Will we be socially distant or back to 8 people at a table and chairs side-by-side?
The answer is it depends. It depends on where you are going, how the organization wants to proceed, and your comfort level. Be respectful of others. You can ask them if they are comfortable shaking hands or if an elbow bump would be better. If the organizer requires masks, wear one without argument. When it comes to business cards, it’s always been my belief that you should only give one to the person who asks for it. In today’s environment that philosophy solves the question of whether you should hand them out. So, have them with you and share when asked.
You still want to follow up with the people you connect with and offer a meeting or call. And remember, regardless of when, where, and how you are networking, don’t seek the sale. Maintain a curious mindset. Seek to discover how the people you meet might fit into your world, and be open to identifying those who don’t. Networking is productive when it provides you with resources and associates you grow to trust and respect. You’ll grow your business from there.
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