The presentations are over and now it’s time for the (dreaded) networking and mingling. You might be mentally replaying your presentation over and over in your head, regretting not mentioning that one small detail, but everyone else is ready for a glass of wine. So, what next? Now is not the time to hide in the corner, packing up your laptop. It is the time to step up and make connections with potential investors. But how?
The following tips might just help you solidify a potential investor.
Use Your inside contacts
Chances are good that you were invited to present by someone that knows you or your company. They liked something about you (or your company) and thought you would be successful. Utilize this person to your advantage – they want you to succeed. Ask this contact to formally introduce you to someone in the room. While they might have someone specific in mind for you to meet, you might want to have someone in your head lined up, perhaps that one investor that had a million questions during your presentation.
Go it alone
While it’s very easy to commiserate with other presenters or that intern you recognize, doing so does not work to your advantage. You want to be confident enough to circle the room on your own. If you spot a small group talking, don’t be afraid to make deliberate moves towards the drink table that’s right behind them. You’ll have better chances getting into a conversation when you’re near.
Be aware of your body language
- Keep a relaxed posture with a straight back and relaxed shoulders. Be comfortable with your surroundings. Lean in slightly to show you’re engaged in the conversation.
- Keep your arms comfortably at your side or across your lap. Crossing your arms is a visual red flag that you are turned-off by the situation.
- Your handshake is key, Udemy advises, “The handshake is one of the most important nonverbal communication cues because it can set the mood for the entire conversation. A firm handshake will give you instant credibility while a weak handshake will make you appear fragile. Take care not to crush the other person’s hand though. Giving someone a death grip will signal to them that you are a bully or overcompensating for something.”
Maintain regular eye contact with your conversation partner. This is key while listening and speaking. Good eye contact shows interest in the conversation.
Slow down a little bit. If you’re nervous, you might have the tendency to speak very quickly. Take a deep breath and focus on slowing down. You will appear confident and it will help you calm down.
When actively engaging in business networking, the goal is quality over quantity. Don’t circle the room attempting to get your contact information into everyone’s pockets. Make meaningful connections – try for three per hour of networking – that you can actively follow up on. Get business cards. Having their contact information means that it’s on you to expand the connection beyond the event.
Keep moving throughout the room during the event. Don’t get pulled into one conversation for too long, especially when the networking portion has a timeframe. If you have on hour, try to have a meaningful conversation with at least three different people. In order to move on, you will need to master a graceful exit. When the conversation turns to an ‘end of the thought’ point, extend your hand, say you enjoyed the conversation and ask if they have a card available so that you can follow up with them.
Know how you plan to introduce yourself in 10 seconds or less. The people you’re meeting have just watched your presentation, so they know about your company already, but they might not know you as a person. This is your chance to sell yourself. After all, you’re the person behind the business – the one that could be their potential business partner. Show your passion and interest for your business.
Play the Name Game
Meeting many people during a single event can be taxing on your memory. When someone gives you their name, repeat it back out loud. This action shows that you are interested and will help you cement their name in your head. During the conversation, use their name once or twice. People enjoy hearing their name used. It perks them up and shows your interest.
Relationships are natural progressions; follow-ups can be the turning point.
Remember a key point during the conversation with someone – it allows you a reason for a follow up. You can use the phrase, “During our previous conversation you mentioned…” Be sure to ask your potential contact what’s the best way to stay in touch. Some prefer their cell, some prefer email, while others prefer social media. Knowing the best way to get a response from your follow-up will significantly increase the ROI on your time.
Networking is where the conversation begins.