Working Your Next Networking Event
Almost once a week, I find myself attending a networking event or conference. Some are great and some less successful. But no matter how the panels are, the most important part of any event are the conversations. We all know that networking events can be a little daunting or awkward at times, but here are a few ways you might be able to curb that and make a new connection.
Put the phone away. It’s tempting to be on your phone when you don’t know anyone. Hiding behind emails and looking ‘oh so busy’ can be a safety net when a networking event is more first day of school than a business function. Put the phone in your bag/pocket, get out there and look approachable and engaged. It will be much easier to pick up on cues that someone wants to start a conversation.
Share on Social. Live by the millennial rule that if you didn’t post it on social media, it’s like it didn’t happen. When attending an event try to get at least one tweet and or Instagram post in using the host’s handle and event hashtag. Your followers get to see that you’re out and about, and you might pick up some new ones along the way. Do this from both your personal and corporate accounts.
Find the hot spots. Look around for the best watering holes at the event. This could be by the bar, near food, or next to a phone charging station. It’s easy here to break the ice and get conversation started.
Talk first, introduce later. Start with small talk before diving into your company’s pitch. Being friendly and open and lacking a set agenda can lead to a most substantial conversation.
Check the list before heading out. Guest lists are sometimes released in advance. Check out who is coming before and try to connect prior to the event. If appropriate, set up a meeting onsite.
Follow up. This is probably the most important rule of all. Reach out to the people you meet with a note saying it was nice meeting and set up another action. Could be coffee, drinks, lunch, or a call. If you missed out on speaking with someone, use the event as a touch point to get a chance to talk.
Connect. Make sure to connect right away on social channels. Send them a LinkedIn request and follow them on Twitter. This also makes it easier when you are trying to remember someone the next day.
Know someone. Attending events where you know someone can help with introductions. It never hurts to recognize a friendly face.
The best part of going to an event is meeting new people and brands. Having a plan before going in will make it easier and more successful. Be natural and yourself. Remember that everyone is there for the exact same reason, to make a new connection.comments powered by Disqus