Be Unforgettable: How Business Owners Can Standout at Networking Events
First, you’re probably thinking if everyone in the chamber (and beyond) reads this article and follows the advice here, no one will be unforgettable because we’ll all be following the same instructions. But in the words of the famous Dr. Seuss, “There is no one alive more youier than you” so being the same isn’t possible if you’re true to who you are.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how you can begin to standout and make worthwhile connections, even if you hate networking.
Why Should You Attend a Networking Event?
You either love networking or hate it, right? But networking events can be invaluable opportunities for you to expand your professional network, forge valuable partnerships, learn of opportunities before anyone else, and ultimately grow your business and/or career. Plus, they can be fun.
Still, when there are so many people in a room all trying to do the same thing you are—meet new connections—standing out in a crowd and making a lasting impression can be a challenge. But a necessary one because you want them to think of you when they need something.
Let’s explore the best ways for you to be memorable at the next chamber networking event, so you can meet potential clients, collaborators, and industry influencers.
6 Ways to Be More Memorable When Networking
Before we get into being memorable, it’s important to set a goal. Don’t go in hoping to meet “someone good.” Good means a lot of things. Do you want a good customer, a good business partner, a good influencer, a good friend, a good caterer…you get the idea. Knowing who you want to meet will help you devise a plan to be more memorable. Just as you would use different bait to attract a shark versus a deer, you’ll want to decide who you want to meet before working on how to be more memorable. Keep your goal in mind as you:
Shift the Focus
It can be awkward walking into a group or up to a person you don’t know. Most event hosts (especially the chamber) will be glad to introduce you to someone. Once they do, avoid awkward moments by focusing on the person you’ve just been introduced to. Asking someone what they do is good but often elicits a very short phrase, “I’m a lawyer,” for instance. Then you might say, “Wow. Great. My cousin’s a lawyer.” This conversation isn’t very memorable. On the other hand, if you ask them “What are you working on that you’re really excited about?” They’re going to open up. Another great hot topic is AI. Ask them if they’re using it or what they think about it.
Get them talking about themselves, their preferences, their knowledge/experience and listen. Speaking of…
Be a Genuine Listener
One of the most effective ways to be memorable is by being an active and engaged listener. Show genuine interest in the person you're conversing with, and ask thoughtful questions about their business, challenges, and goals. By listening attentively, you can demonstrate you value their insights and build a meaningful connection. People remember those who make them feel heard and understood.
Craft a Memorable Personal Story
Stories are powerful tools for connecting with others on an emotional level and they’re easy to remember. Develop a personal story that highlights your journey, passion, and the impact your business has made. Share it in a concise and engaging manner, leaving a lasting impression on your listeners.
Remember, a well-crafted personal story is not a monologue. The story may be about you, but it must have a broader appeal. You want someone to hear your story and be inspired to do something in their own lives, not feel like they’re watching a one-person, off-Broadway show.
Dress the Part:
Follow the event's dress code but wear something you love. Your appearance reflects your brand's image, and wearing a favorite item will help you appear confident, credible, and approachable. Wear something that showcases your style and is memorable without being silly (unless your business is silly, then go for it). For instance, a consultant I know always wears a hat; the kind of hat is dependent on the occasion. A dog walker may always wear dog jewelry. An author of a pirate book may wear a chain with a gold doubloon. These branding elements help them be more memorable.
Use Creative and Memorable Marketing Materials
Stand out from the crowd by designing unique and memorable business cards, marketing materials, or giveaways. Incorporate your brand's visual identity and ensure that the design aligns with your overall messaging. Add a personal touch, such as a handwritten note or a relevant quote, to leave a lasting impression. People often keep creative marketing materials, making them a powerful tool for staying top-of-mind.
Be “On” at All Times
Have you ever watched a video that shows a celebrity or a VIP when they don’t know there’s a camera or mic on them? Sometimes it ends badly, and they say (or do) something that is out of character for how the rest of the world perceives them. The same can happen in a networking event. Don’t have a great event exuding graciousness, then step into your car and lean on your horn only to find out the person you’re making rude gestures to is the individual you thought you had a great connection with only minutes earlier. Remember, as a businessperson, people aren’t just looking to do business with you at the event. They want to see that you’re the same person on the clock and off.
Networking events provide you with a platform to showcase your expertise, expand your connections, and leave a memorable impression. By getting others talking, being an engaged listener, sharing a compelling personal story, using great materials, and staying “on,” you can create lasting relationships that will benefit your business. Be authentic, be memorable, and let your passion shine through. Those types of actions are infectious.
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and finds it easier to give a presentation in front of 100 people than go into a networking event alone.
Check out Chamber Networking Opportunities at www.griffinchamber.com/events
We Coordinate Business After Hours the third Tuesday of each month, Coffee & Connections throughout the year and SABA the first Wednesday of each month.