In the episode:
00:38 – It’s not about you
01:25 – Finding common ground
02:18 – How to treat big shots
03:22 – Beware of THIS
04:24 – When to approach a speaker
05:05 – Are you the person people want to be around?
05:59 – When invited to dinner…
06:53 – A big no-no
07:46 – What you can offer
08:39 – How to be recognized
09:17 – A way to bridge conversation
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James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, I’m going to be talking about live events.
I just ran my live event, SuperFastBusiness Live. All of the presenters there were fantastic. A lot of them I’ve met in person at other events, and quite often, in other countries. So today, I’m going to share with you some top tips on how to network better when you go to a live event.
“How to network better at a live event”
The first tip is be interested rather than trying to be interesting. So a lot of the people at events generally gravitate towards a bar. Wherever there’s food or refreshments served, that’s where people go because they’re away from home. So you’ll find people congregate there. And rather than trying to be very interesting and have everyone notice you, instead, be interested. Be curious. Ask questions.
“Rather than trying to be interesting…”
But just be low key as well. You don’t need to be over the top. You don’t need to stand out and be the class clown. What you want to think about is this is a very long-term relationship. And first impressions are important. But you’ll have more than a few bites at the cherry, and I’ll explain why in just a minute.
Find things in common
One thing that I do when I’m meeting someone is I find things that we have in common because that makes it comfortable to have a continued discussion. Where did they go to school? Where do they live? What things are they interested in? What type of careers have they had? What are their passions or sports? What sort of family situation have they grown up with? So there’s all sorts of common ground you can find. Fairly quickly, you’ll find friends who you have in common.
These days, it’s even easier with things like Facebook will actually tell you who you have in common. So if you know the person, and you’re trying to establish contact, have a look and see who you have as mutual friends because they will be common grounds for you. In fact even better is to get an introduction from one of those friends if they happen to be there at the event. It’s way better to get introduced by somebody than for you to have to go up cold.
“It’s better to be introduced.”
Remember to have empathy even if someone’s a big shot. I’ve experienced this with billionaires and A-list movie stars. They’re still human, and they still have challenges. And sometimes, their challenges are even bigger than yours. So have empathy. And remember, they still have blood flowing through their veins. They’re not superhuman. They’re not aliens. Well, unless you listen to some of those conspiracy sites. But they’re just normal people. If you have a huge amount of empathy, you’ll find out that they’re a lot like you in many ways. Just treat them normally because not many people treat them normally.
One of the worst things you can do is suck up to them. Nobody likes a kiss ass. It’s really unappealing when you’re surrounded by them. There’s always that person who just hangs onto the conversation too much. You can tell they’re an obvious fan, and they’ll follow you around. Please, never, ever follow someone into the urinal to continue a conversation. It’s just unpleasant, and it’s a little bit weird.
When groups come together, there’s a group dynamic called forming and then the next phase is storming. Storming is where it’s kind of like a pissing contest to find out who’s who. Who’s the big alpha male in the jungle? So this is the part where everyone brags. Just be a bit cautious about that. You don’t have to brag too much. You might want to mention one or two things that helped people relate to where you’re at. For example, if you’re running a substantial business, it’s OK to mention something that might help somebody understand what size your business is. But not for the purpose of bragging. Just so that you can have another person relate to you.
If someone is in a similar bracket to you, they’re going to resonate and relate to you because you’ve got something in common. So if you’re trying to find someone who’s in the same bracket as you in business or in life, then some of these little subtle hints might be thrown out. But be cautious not to overstep the mark and look like a giant douche nozzle.
When to approach a speaker
If you find someone, and they’re a speaker, and you happen to be in the back of the room, and they’re about to go on stage, and they’re micing up, that’s a really bad time to start a conversation. They’re thinking about their presentation. They’ve got a presentation to deliver. They’re in the zone. They’re micing up. Nothing is more important to them right now than to go up there and deliver on that reputation. Terrible time to be having a chat with them or asking them to pose for pictures. Wait until after they’ve spoken. Sure, they’re going to get mobbed. However, they’re going to be relaxed, and relieved, and excited. They’ve now delivered. Everyone knows who they are. You can compliment them on their presentation.
Try smiling and being friendly. If you just smile and be friendly, you’ll be the sort of person people want to be around. You can have that casual conversation. Don’t be desperate to go and find that one person who you’ve been idolizing for years, because if they’re at the event, you’ll probably see them more than once. They’ll probably be there tomorrow. You may be able to see someone speaking with them who you do know, who would be prepared to make an introduction for you. Just be cool. That’s the main thing. You don’t have to have a specific agenda, and you most certainly don’t have to have some worn-out, horrid, elevator pitch.
And please, don’t do those weird social things where you interrogate someone with a strange and bizarre starting routine like, “What are you delivering to the world in terms of value?” Those sort of things. I’ve had that happen to me, and that’s just really weird.
If you get invited for dinner…
If they’re hanging around the bar, then generally, people will break off and go off to dinner. If you’re invited to go to dinner, that’s perfect. That’s how you get to go to a quiet environment where you get a chance to have a real conversation over a meal. And if you end up paying for the meal, that’s OK. But someone else will probably pay for it. I reckon there’s about a 10 to 20 percent chance that you’ll end up having to pay for your dinner if you end up in a group meal at one of these big events.
Generally, someone at the table is more than happy to show you how impressive they are by picking up the bill, and that’s totally cool. It will always end up where you might end up with a big bill or you might end up with no bill. Just be prepared for that to cover it if you end up having to pay the bill. But I’ve found in more cases than not, someone else is picking up the bill. Remember to thank them and be very gracious because it’s a tremendously generous thing that they’re doing. And this is the sort of thing that generates great goodwill.
No to business cards
Please don’t thrust your business card in their face. People in our industry, in the online marketing industry, generally don’t have business cards. Your business card has 99.9 percent chance of ending up in the nearest bin or scrunched up in a pocket. It’s just not the thing to do. I can’t think of a good reason for you to give someone a business card unless they ask for it. If you’re not sure how to make contact, just friend them on Facebook or send them an email from your phone right then and there or ask them if they’d like to send you an email right then and there if you’re trying to establish contact.
You don’t have to follow up immediately, but you should follow up. You should make down a note in your notes of everyone you spoke to and then follow them up after the event. You can say, “Hey, it was great catching up with you at such and such event. Here’s that resource that I mentioned,” which leads me to another point.
If you’ve got something valuable to give or there’s some way that you serve people, by all means, offer that or serve it. Not in such a way that it looks like you’re a kiss ass. Not in a way that you’re just trying to offer help. I’ve had some people offer this strange one, where I listen, “Man, I want to help you, anyway I can, whatever you need, I’ll work for you for free.” It just comes off a little bit desperate. And frankly, I have my own team, so I don’t really need things from other people.
But there are people who can offer tremendous value. It could be an introduction. It might be they have some specialty that I’m really interested in. Or it might be that they just know that my passion is a certain thing, and they connect me or point me to a resource that I might find really interesting. That’s a great way that people have been able to do that and something I’ve been able to do for others, especially connecting people who may not know each other, who should know each other.
Put a profile picture
If you’re going to go to events, put your picture on your profile and participate in the group threads that are happening on social media or on private communities around the event. Almost every event has a forum where people can meet each other. Put your picture there, because if you are shy and you don’t put a picture, people won’t recognize you.
I am constantly blown away how many people recognize me when I go to a conference in the United States just because they’ve seen my picture, or they’re watched a video, or they’ve heard my podcast. So using a picture of yourself in social media is a good way for people to recognize you, and that makes it easier for a real-life conversation.
Remember, if you can find something nice to say about somebody, say it. If they’ve helped you in your journey, let them know. If there was some podcast they mentioned, a statement, or a phrase, or a key point that you really thought about a lot, let them know. People really dig that. I know I resonate when people tell me something that I’ve helped them with. But I also am quick to give credit to people who’ve helped me. So almost every famous person I’ve met, I’ve been able to pinpoint for them what it is that they did or contributed that was really helpful for me. I’m sure that is a nice thing for them to hear, but it’s also true. So no false flattery. A real compliment is a really nice way to bridge your conversation.
“No false flattery.”
I hope some of these tips have helped you. If you are going to an event, try them out. Let me know if they were helpful. If you’ve got a few more tips to add, then by all means, make some comments below this video. I’m James Schramko.
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