With Exchange: An ETF Experience coming February 5–8 in Miami, Florida, advisors are going to have an opportunity to flex their networking muscles. Whether you are a seasoned networking pro or tend towards introversion, here are four tips to help you make the most of the opportunity.
1. Be Prepared but Not Too Prepared
Going into a live event, it helps to have your own house in order. This means making sure you’ve prepared both your online persona and put some thought into how you want to present in person to others. Your LinkedIn profile should be updated, polished, and ready to receive new connections. You should have a personal elevator pitch at the ready that presents who you are and what you do in a succinct fashion that leaves listeners wanting to hear more. You should also have a general idea about what you want to get out of the event in terms of network building. Do you know who else is going to be there? Have you read up on them? Is there anyone specific you are trying to meet?
Part and parcel with preparation is having a plan of what you want to do and where you want to be, but it’s important to leave yourself plenty of wiggle room so you can take advantage of opportunities as they come in. Set your agenda, but be ready to abandon it.
2. Balance Speaking and Listening
Though some people are calm and collected in social situations, they can create anxiety for others. One common way anxiety manifests itself is by making people overly chatty. You should make sure you are balancing when you are speaking vs. when you are listening. A good rule of thumb is to count the number of people in the conversation and aim directly for the amount of talking that would give each participant an equal amount of time speaking. So, if you are with two other people, you should aim to speak no more than one out of every three sentences.
Listening is an underrated superpower. Though charismatic extroverts who can dominate conversations can be fun and successful, someone who listens and remembers what others say is going to ultimately be more memorable and build a stronger connection. Being able to reflect back to people what they have told you is a sure-fire way to strengthen your connection, given that oversharing is far more common. Men, in particular, tend to dominate conversations and want to flex expertise. Real experts are comfortable in what they know and confident that they don’t need to oversell it.
3. Lift Up Others
A lot of folks go into networking thinking that the ultimate goal is selling themselves and what they do to others. But in reality, networking is an opportunity to grow and nurture community. A key component of that is lifting other people up.
If someone expresses a need and you know someone in your own network that can help them, make the connection. It doesn’t have to be directly about you, but you’ll still benefit, as both parties will be grateful toward you. Connecting other people is just as important as making connections for yourself, if not more so.
4. Follow Up Afterwards
When the in person event comes to a close, follow up with people afterwards. This is an easy step to forget. Events can take a lot of time and energy. You’ll come home tired from long flights and several straight nights of socializing and long days of jamming your brain with useful information. But a follow-up the next day can go a long way toward cementing a new connection. Even just dropping a line to say it was a pleasure meeting them can be a huge deal, especially if you took step two to heart and can reflect back to someone something they said or did.
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