How to make the most out of networking events
Some love them, some hate them - business networking events. A lot of people feel uncomfortable going to these events and talking to strangers in order to make connections. But networking is an important part of today’s business life and can help you grow your career and/or business. Networking events can help you make crucial connections, but going to these events will only be successful when you are prepared and know how to get the best out of networking. So keep reading to find out more about making the most of networking events.
Before the event
Before going to any networking event make sure you are prepared. You should bring
Make sure you have them accessible during the event so you can hand out your card and/or CV to people.
Only go to an event when you know what you want to get from it. You should know what the purpose of this event is. Do you want to meet new potential clients or customers? Are you looking for new career opportunities? Do you want to find a new resource? Whatever the goal is, make sure you try to achieve it during your time there. But keep in mind that these events are about making connections - in other words, it’s a give and take. So make sure you know what you can do for potential new connections.
In order to make connections you need to be able to properly introduce yourself. Some people call this introduction the “Elevator speech” because you should be able to tell the other person in about 30 seconds what you do and what your business is all about. Since you only have a limited time you should make sure it is snappy so that you get people’s attention. This pitch is going to be important to show others what you have to offer and in what way you are different from everyone else.
If you can, try to find out who will be attending the event so that you can find out who you want to meet. Do a little research on them and their company and find something you have in common that you could use to break the ice to start a conversation.
Another thing to find out before you go to the networking event is the dress code. It is good to know whether the dress code is Business Formal or Business Casual so that you can dress appropriately and feel as part of the group.
At the event
When you are going to a networking event arrive early so that you enter the room with only a small group of people. This will make it easier to make the first connections. Don’t forget to smile and have an open posture when you enter the room. This will not only make you seem friendlier and more approachable but it will also make you feel more confident.
The purpose of these networking events is to meet new people and make new connections so if you go with someone you know, don’t just stand in the corner and talk to them the whole time. Spread out, mingle and introduce yourself to new people. Approach people that are standing by themselves and try to talk to a bunch of different people. But make sure you don’t talk to them for too long - 5-6 minutes talking to one person should be sufficient to find out if this can be an interesting connection for you.
Talk to people you might have targeted before but also talk to some other people. Don’t make the mistake to think that someone at a networking event is unimportant. Some people might surprise you and turn out to be a valuable connection. Always try to find out what people are doing by asking lots of questions. Listen to what they have to say and then find a connection. If you think they can be useful for you hand out your business card. Keep in mind that you want Quality over Quantity. It is important to collect information so you should rather get the business cards of others than handing out your card to everyone.
After the event
Immediately after the event take some notes on the people you met and what you talked about because otherwise you will probably forget about these details after a while.
If you told someone you would get in touch with them you should do this within 72 hours. Send an Email telling them you enjoyed meeting them and refer to what you were talking about at the event. Google them and maybe even follow them on Social Media to show an interest in them.
People will also appreciate it if you do something nice for them. Take a few minutes to introduce them to someone else you know and they will be likely to remember you next time you get in contact with them.
So that’s it - how to make the most out of networking events. Remember that it is most important to collect information and to interact with lots of people. Don’t go there to sell yourself but to see how you can help others. And last but not least - don’t forget to have fun and be yourself.