Do you remember the last time you went to a networking event or met with a group of other small business owners to improve your small business networking? Chances are you met a handful of people and came away with business cards or other identifying content. How well did you remember the faces and conversations that went with the names? How easily could you recall the business of an individual you met by their face and story alone?
The last thing you want to do is become one of those faces or business cards that leave absolutely no impression once the event is over with. No matter how well you think you captivate their attention while you’re speaking to them there’s a good chance that if you’re not branding yourself properly and making a memorable impression, those people you meet at small business networking events and groups aren’t going to remember you. Here are some tips on how to make you stand out and be memorable (in a good way) when networking with other business and industry leaders.
Be Distinctive – You don’t need to dress like a clown but a brightly-colored tie, a unique piece of jewelry, good cologne or even a certain grooming style can make you stand out in the memory of business partners in a good way. You certainly don’t want to only be remembered because of your hairstyle or scent but those are excellent memory triggers that mark your encounter with a great big flag. Don’t be outlandish to achieve this, but don’t let yourself blend with the crowd.
Be Engaging – It’s very important that when you network with others in order to build relationships that foster business leads, you need to stay engaged. It’s obvious when you don’t vest yourself in the conversation so make sure you listen well, respond promptly, maintain eye contact, etc. If you’re truly present and accounted for mentally then you will stand out among the other people who are trying to “check out” early.
Carry the Conversation – Never let a conversation be one-sided. It’s important to listen to the others while you’re focusing on small business networking and fostering a foundation for a future relationship but don’t just nod and smile. You need to do your share of carrying the conversation so ask thought-provoking questions. When you do this, you will undoubtedly stick out as one of the more engaging individuals. Your name, your face, your business and your interests will stick in the minds of those business owners when the day is done. Make an effort to take a genuine interest in the business owners around you.
Reinforce “You” with Keywords – The people you network with will be meeting a lot of people – that’s the nature of being a business owner. They won’t remember long descriptions of what you do so you need to break it down to a few key things about yourself. Name, Company name, Business, Product and Location. Use various points frequently and you’ll be easier to remember – like “Joe the Barber from Soho”
Contribute to the Group Conversation – Everything about you is important, and you want eyes on you but you can’t take the spotlight. Don’t hog the conversation, just join it. Think in terms of the power of words and choose what you say carefully. Saying one smart thing in front of the group will make you more memorable than 15 minutes of semi-conscious chatter. Create value for others and you create value for yourself.
You have to sell yourself just as hard as you sell your products. When you’re involved in small business networking for building business leads you need to approach those business owners like you’re making a sale. This is your brand, and your brand is more than just a logo. It’s an experience. If you focus on selling a memorable experience rather than a snapshot then you up the chances of creating a memorable experience. You are your business, so make an impression that won’t be easily forgotten.