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Break the Ice at Networking Events

eSAX-Ottawa-Networking-Event (1)When you attend eSAX or any other Ottawa entrepreneur networking event, your goal shouldn’t be to just collect business cards.

These events are the place that you are building rapport that will establish long-term relationships that lead to future opportunities for both involved parties. It takes a good deal of time and effort to cultivate, but it all starts with the initial ice breaking at the first meeting!

How can you set yourself up for the perfect icebreakers?

Change your mindset

No matter how fantastic your opening line might be, it will fall flat if your heart isn’t in it. Be positive and be on the lookout for the diamond in the rough. This means, don’t walk in and decide there is no one good to talk to. Have your mind set on meeting anyone unknown and starting as meaningful a conversation as you would with someone you knew could set you up with a million dollar deal. Treating people this way will make people feel pleased to speak with you.

Mind your appearance

Your appearance, which includes your apparel and your body language, tells others a lot about you. Be business-appropriate in what you wear, and always make sure to have a smile on your face. Don’t forget to use eye contact when talking with others, and avoid crossing your arms.

Ask a mutual acquaintance for help

To start a conversation with an unknown person, you can ask any mutual friend or acquaintance to introduce you. This works perfect if you see someone you already know speaking to someone you don’t already know. Walk up and say hello to your friend and ask them to introduce you.

Directly introduce yourself

If you want to meet someone and you don’t have a mutual friend to do the introduction, you will have to just gather your nerves, focus your confidence, and go right over and say hello. It’s always best to start with your name, and asking them their name and what they do. Remember to hold off on shoving your business card in their face. People want to talk first, exchange cards later. The same goes for your elevator pitch. You want to do introductions first and not just spit out the pitch at them.

Wondering what to talk about if you can’t just talk about what you are selling? Try these:

  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Did you travel far to get here?
  • Have you been to this event before?
  • What TV shows are you into?
  • Do you know many people here? Who?
  • What is the most exciting project you are working on right now?
  • Bonus: “How did you meet Jarrod” (at an eSAX event) OR “Do you know Jarrod?” (at any event around town, as he will undoubtedly be in attendance!)

Ask open-ended questions that show you are interested in the person you are talking with. This is the key to starting a good business relationship.

Breaking the ice becomes easier with practice. Don’t forget to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event so you can make sure to keep practicing your networking skills and building up relationships!

What People Want To Know About You When Networking

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Networking events provide a great opportunity to chat with other business people that you don’t get to see that often, but it’s important to remember that time is limited and we shouldn’t take up too much of any one person’s time.

With that in mind, what are some things to focus on? What are the things that people really want to know from you at each event?

What’s new

Any new projects, partnerships, or ventures? As a business connection, people don’t want to hear your latest sales pitch, but they do want to know what you are doing and where you are focusing your energy, so they can recommend potential clients your way when they come up. Don’t overwhelm them with information, just give them the highlights of what you’ve been up to since you last saw them.

Who to meet

Is there anyone new to the business scene that they should meet? Perhaps you just met someone who has an awesome new startup, or you met someone new to town at a previous event that your connection should meet. People appreciate you helping them to expand their network with quality business people. These light referrals give you bonus points in both person’s eyes. If it ends up being a lucrative connection, they may be especially thankful and remember you even more in the future.

What’s coming up

Make sure to mention to your connection what events are coming up that you are attending. People always appreciate learning about a new event, and spreading the word will help the event to gather the greatest entrepreneurs in Ottawa. Be sure to mention where they can get tickets, if necessary, and tell them where you heard of it. Lots of times new events spring up and it takes word of mouth to get them up and running.

Where’s the food

If all else fails and you can’t think of what to talk about, mention the food! Point out where the drinks are, or where the food is (this works especially well if there are roaming servers with trays). It may be a small talk, but it’s better than nothing. Not all conversations have to be deep to be meaningful! You can parlay talk about the event’s food into talk about restaurants in town, new recipes, cooking shows, and more. Be creative!

The continued connections that you make with people are what really counts. Keep your relationships going by purchasing your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event!

The Principles of Networking

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Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone right away. People get better and better at networking with practice, and with learning all they can to become better networkers. If you ask people for tips on networking, they may all give you different answers. Different things work for different people, but there are some underlying principles that will work for pretty much everyone.

#1: Don’t sell

Networking is about getting to know people, not about making sales. Don’t feel as though the night was not successful if you did not make a deal, and don’t write people off if you don’t think they are going to buy from you. Relationships on their own are valuable, getting to be known in the Ottawa business community is valuable, and you never know who may end up knowing someone who DOES want to buy from you!

#2: Listen

There is no better way to exhaust yourself than to run from person to person at an event, blasting out your elevator pitch at full steam. It’s also a good way to annoy others. Practice listening, not just nodding while you plan what you are going to say next. Process what people are saying, and make an attempt to remember it for the next time you see them. 

#3: Value people

As networking isn’t about sales, you should have some real interest in people, and not just what they can do for you. Each person you meet has a unique story: where they came from, how they got started, and what makes them a success. You can value them for the advice they may give, or for the valuable market research potential they provide (when you ask them about their pain points and if they feel your product or service would be beneficial to them).

#4: Be prepared to give

If you don’t ask, you may never receive, but what’s more important is for you to be ready to help others. If someone asks you for something, or even if you sense that people may take you up on an offer, you could end up being a hero for lending a helping hand. This doesn’t mean you have to give out free products or services, but it may mean that you lead them to a good new connection, or give them a tip or advice that they need. Gradually you will find that you are reciprocated with the statement: “Now how can I help you?”

#5: Be approachable

We talk about facial expressions and body language all the time. It is important to smile and be relaxed so that people feel comfortable walking up to you and saying hello. Being approachable is also about the conversations you have with others. If people see that you are easy to talk to, they will be more likely to introduce themselves.

#6: Think outside the event

Think networking only happens four times a year, at each eSAX event? It’s a nice thought, but networking can happen anytime, anywhere. You may see someone in the grocery store that you met at an event, and you’ll have to remember that relationship-building is a continuous process. Always be “on-brand”, which means that you always want to be a good representation of yourself and your business. 

#7: Be trustworthy

Relationships are based on trust, which means successful networking requires you to be a most trustworthy person. Be genuine, authentic, and sincere in all you say and do to establish yourself as a trustworthy person. Anything else will undermine your efforts and undo all the hard networking you’ve done.

 

Concentrate on these principles of networking, and make sure to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event!

Shy People and Networking

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It is all about meeting new people at different Ottawa entrepreneur networking events. If you are a business owner, you know that it is important to share your business with others. Therefore, the more you meet with new people, the better your opportunity to harness those contacts becomes. However, many people are introverted they find mingling with people to be quite a challenge. So, the question becomes: should I force myself out to networking events or not?

The answer is simple: Yes, you should get out to events! Shy people can be just as successful at networking, if not more so. Since they are more attuned for listening, they end up being the exact type of person that others like to talk to.  Now, just follow these tips to get rid of hesitation, and start on your way to successful networking!

Have no fear

Do you allow the label of “introvert” or “shy” be your excuse for not attending events? Perhaps you should take another look at what is stopping you. In many cases, introverts function very well in situations, so long as they know what to expect. If you are unsure of what is going to happen, or what is expected of you, this may be what is holding you back. Don’t let fear be the reason you aren’t getting started on building your business. See if you can find a friend (especially one that is extroverted or already knowledgeable about the event) who will buddy up with you to help you gain confidence. Practice going to events, and observe what others do. You’ll soon get over your fear.

Make your presence felt

Once you’ve finally decided to attend an event, don’t make the mistake of being a wallflower. It doesn’t count as successful networking if you aren’t interacting with others. If you are just absorbing the stories of others and collecting business cards, they will probably not remember you when you follow up. Make yourself engage in two-way conversations with people. Share interesting facts about yourself and your business. You may not win over everyone, but you’ll win over no one if you don’t put yourself out there.

Use technology

We are lucky to live in a day-and-age where social networking is an available tool to help us to build and strengthen our networks. If you tend to be shy in person, perhaps you can use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to engage with others more frequently. Check out event pages, and make sure to follow the people you would like to get to know better. Make meaningful comments, and respond if they talk to you. You may still be nervous to talk to them in person, but it will help you to feel a bit more confident.

Smile

When we are nervous, our face and body language can reveal it to others. It’s important to make an effort to smile and try to put ourselves at ease. It might be a challenge, but it is worth it because otherwise you could be repelling people. Turn on your smile to invite people to talk with you.

Attend events

If you are shy and you want to overcome it for networking, getting out there is your best bet. Attending frequent events will help you to meet with like-minded people that you really enjoy interacting with, and it will also help you to overcome your shyness.

The more you get out there, the more comfortable you will become in these situations. Don’t forget to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event so you get regular practice!

Is It Rude To Interrupt People At Networking Events?

One of the challenges in networking is finding someone to talk to who isn’t already in a conversation! How do you break into a group and join in without seeming rude?

Transcript:

Do you find it rude to be interrupted at a networking event? I would say no, because networking events are a little bit different than real life. Often, you will be in a group of three or four people talking and chatting-it-up, when someone else comes along who you know wants to get into the conversation. This person is probably not going to jump right in unannounced and say “hi, I’m so and so”. Usually the way it works is that someone will make eye contact with this new person, and then at that point the conversation amongst the three or four people may actually stop. Don’t worry. This is completely normal! Then the person comes in and if they overheard, they may just start joining the conversation. Or, someone might ask how they found out about the event, do they know some of these other people etc? Very soon, they will just become a new person in the group, or the group might even split-off into two separate groups. Don’t worry about interrupting people at a networking event, because we’re all there to meet new people. Happy networking everybody. See you at the next event. Because #eSAX makes networking work

Do you have a networking question you’d like to ask? Email info (at) esax.ca or tweet your question using #eSAX!

Starring: Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX and Sax Appeal.

With help from Wasim from Storyline Productions and Jessica from Hewett Ripley Communications!

Think Of Networking As A Long-Term Goal

Today our #AskTheFedora video encourages you to look at networking as a long-term goal.

Starring: Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX and Sax Appeal.

With help from Wasim from Storyline Productions and Jessica from Hewett Ripley Communications!

Transcript:

How do I find the time to balance all the networking events and follow-ups that are required? This is what I treat as a full-time business. It’s people. Because people buy into people. Take the time to respond to every single e-mail that comes your way since the other person took time to write you, it just seems like a courteous thing to do to reply. I spend a lot of my time replying to people, following-up with people, connecting on LinkedIn and entering everyone’s information in my database. I don’t know if it’s going to get me a gig this week, but it may in 6 months or a year from now, especially if you see them at regular events you’re going to continue to build this relationship with people.

Interpreting Body Language at Networking Events

This week our #AskTheFedora video looks at How To Interpret Body Language at Entrepreneur Networking Events!

Starring: Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX and Sax Appeal.

With help from Wasim from Storyline Productions and Jessica from Hewett Ripley Communications!

Transcript:

Of all the networking events I’ve been to, the one thing I’ve really come across is that picking up on body language is so important as a networking skill. Next time you’re at an event, look at the person, look at the way their standing, their tone of voice, if they are looking over your shoulder to see if there is anyone else in the room to connect to. What I’m paying attention to at a networking event is the non-verbal body language. Then you can adjust the way you talk to that person. If they are very shy, you don’t want to be in their face, you want to stand off to the side a little bit. Because eSAX Makes Networking Work!

Don’t forget to register for the next eSAX Ottawa Networking event!

How Do I Talk About My Budding Business at Networking Events?

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The beginning of a new business is an exciting time. There are so many new ideas and endless possibilities, but how do you start to talk about a budding business when it’s not quite off the ground yet?

One thing I’ve noticed is that people are reluctant to talk about their business ideas for a variety of reasons. Some people are protective of their new baby, knowing it is not yet ready to be scrutinized by the world. Some people are afraid others will steal their ideas. Others just don’t know where to start. The good news is, you CAN network no matter what stage your business is in, because networking is about creating relationships and not about making sales. Odds are that you will find a great deal of supportive business people ready to give you a hand if you need it.

Still not convinced? Read on for tips:

  • Be Ready for Advice and Suggestions – When you come into a networking event without an established business, you may find people are eager to help you. This can be beneficial, but it can also be overwhelming when you haven’t even started yet. If someone says something that piques your interest, you may want to take a note and tell them you’d like to follow-up with them on that advice once you get going. Just beware that this can be a situation that makes your head swim, and be prepared to “smile and nod” and not change all of your ideas because people seemingly more experienced have told you to. If people bring negativity to the conversation and make you feel bad about your idea, move on from talking to them. This is where a business coach or mentor can come in handy, because they help you build confidence about your own ideas and ensure stick to them despite outside influence.
  • Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas – Could it happen? Maybe, but probably not. I hear many people are hesitant to discuss their idea because they think it is a goldmine and if they don’t get people to sign an NDA they won’t discuss it. For the most part, people at networking events are too busy with their own business to steal someone else’s. The people out there who are looking to steal business ideas have aren’t likely to have the same level of expertise and passion to pull it off the same way you would, so don’t worry about it! Besides, you don’t have to reveal every aspect of business at a networking event.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch – Even if your spiel is just an explainer of the fact that you are new to the entrepreneurship world and just starting to put together your business, it is still worth preparing and practicing so you have more confidence to talk to people. Include the industry you are interested in, and what you are trying to learn more about, and see what they have to offer to the conversation.

Talking about your business at networking events is great for gaining potential clients, establishing people who can give you referrals down the line, and for bouncing ideas off of people while gaining insight into the industry. Hearing the reactions of experienced entrepreneurs as well as new ones is invaluable to a small business owner, because you get an idea of how the market reacts to your pitches, products, and services. Don’t hold back from attending networking events just because you don’t have your business plan or branding done. Jump in right away. In fact, you may find it’s even more low-pressure this way!

Some Tips To Remember Names At Networking Events

Today our #AskTheFedora offers some tips for remembering names at networking events!

Transcript:

You go to a networking and someone tells you their name and all of a sudden it goes right out your other ear. I’m really bad at learning someone’s name. What I try to do, (if they are wearing a name tag), I’d suggest you do not just stare down at their chest (that doesn’t look very good from either party). If you’re talking to someone and the person looks away for a second then I think it’s ok to quickly look down to see if you can catch their name. I always try to look for something a little bit different about the person. Maybe they have a really cool pair of glasses, or they are wearing a really neat belt, and I’ll try to equate what they’re wearing to their name. Yes, it might be a little tough next time you meet them because they might not be wearing the same thing, but the more you see someone, the more likely it will be that you can connect their name to them.

Starring: Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX and Sax Appeal.

With help from Wasim from Storyline Productions and Jessica from Hewett Ripley Communications!

What’s The Purpose of a Business Card

Today our #AskTheFedora discusses the purpose of a business card.

Transcript:

You walk out of a networking event with 30 business cards…what do you do? After many years of trial and error, I decided to put everybody I ever met on a database. On that database, I include where I met the person, what was said, when I followed-up with them. And then I connect with the person on LinkedIn. Then the business cards ends-up in a box. I rarely look at them again. The purpose of a business card is to get you to follow-up with somebody. Put them on a database so that you can easily access that person’s contact information in the future, to not only connect with them yourself, but to send referrals to other people.

Starring: Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX and Sax Appeal.

With help from Wasim from Storyline Productions and Jessica from Hewett Ripley Communications!