Ongoing Tips for Networking Events
Your boss would like you to attend an event, especially now that it’s the holidays. Or you are looking for a job. Or you would like to check out a business group before you join. Some typical responses come to mind. “That presentation is of no interest to me.” “I don’t like going to events where I don’t know anyone.” “I’m not going to walk away with any sales.” The truth is, more than you know. Practice makes perfect and attending networking events takes practice. Some results are not only long term but long lasting. Go out, make an effort and while you may not bring in a lead or find your next job, you may just be ready to when that opportunity presents itself.
- Connect With People Beforehand – Seek out the people that interest you. It is more than likely the event you are attending will have a Facebook or LinkedIn page. See who is going and try to connect. Connecting with people takes the place of an icebreaker. Instead of getting to know the person and what their job is, you already do! Not to mention you can start the conversation with ‘We connected…’ The follow up from this is, there is no follow up! You are already connected, now you don’t have to worry about getting contact information at the event.
- Focus On Group Conversations – Try to let others speak before you when you are in a group. You may find they reveal the answers to the questions you were going to ask. This is a good ongoing tip because it perfects your listening skill and takes the burden of driving a conversation off of you. Nonchalantly walk up to a conversation and catch the important pieces, then listen as others chime in, you are doing yourself a great service of letting others do the preliminary work for you.
- Be Mindful of What You Eat and Drink – Stay away from any foods with which you are unfamiliar. Chances are you are already anxious enough as it is about the event. If the event serves alcohol, remember one or two glasses are good for the evening as this is a business event. Enjoy and have fun, but don’t party!
- Make an Effort to Follow Up – If you accept a business card at an event, make an effort to connect with person. Send them a request to join your business Facebook or LinkedIn pages. There might not be an immediate need in your professional life, but making a lasting connection, and having a familiar face in your network and at future events is always a good thing. This keeps you top of mind for other events where your ideal clients will attend. It is always good to stretch out a helping hand.
In conclusion, try not to think of a networking event as a singular event. Instead, look at it as part of a greater picture, or continuum and a part of your marketing efforts. Like all entrepreneurs, try to be results-oriented, but have your results categorized for immediate, near future, or long term use.
Patrick Coughlin is a Marketing Analyst at Consultants 2 Go.