Whether you are hunting for a new job, marketing your company’s services or simply looking to increase your circle of business contacts, attending a networking event can help. Once you’ve invested the time to identify the event you want to attend and registered for it, you will want to ensure your time (and money) has been well spent. With a little bit of preparation, you can make your time worthwhile!
Get Ready for the Event!
Set your goals! Determine specifically what you want to accomplish at the event and the types of contacts you hope to make.
Do your homework. Research what hashtags are being used and engage in the conversation before the event. Additionally, take the opportunity to look at the profiles of other attendees. Take note of things you have in common and recent accomplishments so you have something to discuss when you meet at the event.
Prepare your commercial. Be prepared to give a 30 second elevator pitch about yourself. You’ll want to share you you are, what you do and something memorable about yourself. Keep in mind, you have just one opportunity to make a first impression…don’t waste it!
Stock up! Check your inventory of business cards and if you’re running low, place an order. You will want to have a good supply of these to hand out to all of the new contacts you make. While you are at it, consider ordering a customized lanyard for your name tag. It’s a great way to show off your organization’s logo and be easily recognized.
Be the early bird! Arrive early so you can scope out the location, meet other early birds and ask any questions you may have of the event staff. Use this time to get organized and ready for the event so you aren’t frazzled as the bulk of other attendees arrive.
Say “CHEESE”! A smile lets those around you know you’re approachable. Other attendees will be more inclined to talk to you.
Be an engaging conversationalist! Networking is a two-way street. Actively listen to what others have to say. An occasional nod of the head shows you are truly listening. When speaking, use the name of the person you are speaking to at least twice. This will help you remember their name as well as show them you have paid attention to them.
Take note. As soon as possible after speaking to someone new, write something on their business card to ensure you will remember who they are after the event. You are bound to be meeting many people and it is easy to forget what you spoke about.
Spread your wings. There are plenty of people to meet at the event so do your best to meet as many as possible. If you are having a great conversation with one person, let them know you would like to continue it after the event. Get it on your calendar and then head off to make additional connections.
After the Event
Follow-Up! Whether you choose to send a personalized email or make a phone call, take the time to follow up with each of your new contacts. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting with them and reference a topic you spoke about just in case they don’t recall who you are.
Get Social! Engage with your new connections on social media. Depending on the type of connection and your ultimate goal, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are great platforms to connect on.
Are you ready to navigate your next networking event? Let us know what other strategies you use before, during or after events to help you effectively network.