Stay connected by planning a FREE “Mix & Mingle” at your office. A mix and mingle is typically a networking event on a more casual level that provides an opportunity for business professionals to mix and mingle with other professionals, and perspective clients.
Prepare a flyer and invite fifteen to twenty friends to an informal get-together. Don’t invite all your friends… a few close friends, maybe. The object is to offer an opportunity to meet new people and to get to know them better. Ask others to bring someone they would like to get to know better.
Have a little wine and cheese or soft drinks and snacks. Tell them to come with a positive mental attitude, bring lots of business cards and enjoy a little unwind time! People with energy and enthusiasm are more attractive to fellow networkers. Let them get to know you and each other on a social level. Offer a brief tour of your office. One and a half to two hours is plenty.
If you are shy or awkward in professional networking situations, this is an opportunity to network in a very casual atmosphere. This kind of event will help your shy networking friends to overcome minglephobia.
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato
When they arrive, ask them to deposit their business card in the fish bowl. Have a drawing. Give something of value away; a gift certificate to a great restaurant, a popular networking book, one of your products, etc. Review the business cards the next day and follow up on the people you need to get to know better. This is also a good way to develop a mailing list.
Provide nametags. I recommend the plastic business card holders. This will assist the people in your network to associate the names with the businesses.
You may want to offer my definition of networking as a theme or guideline for the event:
Networking is using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals… expecting nothing in return!
Help them get acquainted. About a half hour into the “mixer,” ask for everyone’s attention. Offer a welcome, make a few brief remarks about your business, and invite them to mix with others, exchange business cards and thank them for coming. Let them know there will be no “selling,” but encourage them to meet, greet and talk with as many people as they can. Make a toast to “networking!”
You may want to offer a few networking tips that have worked for you. For example, instead of asking, “What do you do?” encourage them to ask, “How did you get started (doing what you do)?” Print a few networking tips on your letterhead to give out.
Ask if there is anyone that has a special need to meet someone? See if you can help them make the connection. People are there to grip and grin, be liked, meet new people, gather information, and then move on to talk with someone else. Make the most of the time that you spend with everyone you meet.
Social connections are important. They allow you to mix business and pleasure. They let you feel comfortable with talking business in a relaxed setting.
Be creative when you stay connected. As they leave, give them something with your name, phone number and Website on it; e.g., a business card, flyer, etc.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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