November 3, 2016 | by Patrick Icasas
5 Ways your Phone Makes Business Networking Easier
Business networking events are proven to be a great source of new clients and business contacts.
In a recent survey, ConnectUsCanada discovered that approximately 40% of people find increased business opportunities through networking, and that networking contributed (directly and indirectly) to obtaining a new job 60% of the time. It’s no wonder that nearly 60% of people would rather attend a business-oriented event.
But we’re not all super-social extrovert types who network like they were born to it. We stumble through conversations with strangers, hoping that the other person doesn’t notice or is just as awkward we are.
Proper networking takes effort and practice, especially if you’re doing it for business purposes. Fortunately, there’s a secret weapon in your pocket that can make business networking easier: your phone.
Using your phone during a conversation is rude, of course. But you can still use this powerful device to your advantage in other ways:
Finding a good event can be just as challenging as the actual networking. Thankfully, there are many apps that help you find local networking events for you to attend. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Eventbrite lets you browse local events of any stripe. A convenient payment system lets you purchase tickets quickly and easily, and sends you both an email and downloadable PDF copy of your ticket for quick access.
- Meetup has a strong social networking component, allowing organizers to chat with their members on the go in addition to finding new, trending or upcoming meetups to join.
- Aloqa uses your GPS location to quickly find places, and events and people in the surrounding area. This is perfect for people on business trips who want to make the most of their stay in a new city.
Do you want to talk to a guest speaker but don’t know what to ask? Use your phone to research his background and find a good conversation topic. Ask him about his time in Africa, or the small business he ran ten years ago.
You can also use it to look up people you’ve met before. No need to embarrass yourself (and them) by misremembering the details and getting their information wrong.
Quick suggestion: Google yourself and see what comes up. If you see something embarrassing, chances are someone else will, too. So clean up your online profile as much as you can.
Ditch the business cards
Business cards have been a networking staple for decades, but mobile devices now give you a more convenient (and less wasteful) alternative.
You can instantly send an invite to their LinkedIn or Twitter account, and invite them to connect to yours. They’re far more likely to accept when they’re right in front of you than when they’re sitting at their desk two days later going, “who is this guy again?”
Apps like Zappoint and CamCard let you scan someone’s business card and store it as part of your contact list. No more collecting thick pieces of paper that you’ll eventually just throw away! Eventbrite takes this one step further by syncing it with the rest of your contact data, and even integrates with LinkedIn for faster online connection.
If someone at a networking event has their phone out, ask “Hey, is that the XXX? What do you think of it?”
Cellphones are a good conversation starter because they’re not as personal as asking where they’re from (which can be taken the wrong way) or as boring as what they do (because everybody’s already asked them about their job).
Everyone you’ll meet has a cellphone, and they’ll all have opinions about it. Whether they love it, hate it or don’t know yet, there’s always going to be a good story there that you can use to get them talking.
If you’re like me, you’ve got a horrible memory for names (and pretty much anything else). But there’s an app for that.
Namerick lets you quickly type in names and a short burst of keywords to help you keep track of the dozens of people you’ll meet at an event. Yeah, your phone’s notepad can do that too, but Namerick stands out by allowing you to search by those keywords.
Don’t remember the person’s name but know she works for RBC? Type it in to the search field and it’ll pull the name in seconds! No more awkward guessing games.
You can definitely take advantage of your phone’s powerful capabilities, but just remember that it’s not a substitute for human interaction. If it’s not a conversation topic or you’re not using it to save contact info, put your phone away when networking. You’ll be friendlier and more engaging as a result. People will leave with a good impression of you, and that’s what they’ll remember later on.