Before You Go:
Diversify – don’t just stick to events and sectors you are comfortable with
Remind yourself why you are going – unless you know exactly what you want to achieve out of the event, you are unlikely to achieve it
Guest List – if it is appropriate, ask the host to send you a copy of the guest list beforehand and make note of the individuals you want to connect with. When you arrive, make it known who you would like to be introduced to. The host is there to help you connect, so use them.
Business Cards – remember to take lots of your business cards with you, and a smart pen which works on shiny card and won’t smudge!
Be Brave - attend the event on your own. Attending a networking event with a colleague is as effective as going to the pub after work!
Timing – arrive in good time. Walking into a well established networking event is much more daunting having to approach people, rather than being approached!
During the Event:
Name Badge – we generally shake hands with our right hand, so wear your name badge on the right hand side at lapel level. Ladies, remember to wear something you can easily clip your badge to; handbags straps, belt buckles or around your decolletage are not ideal!
Approach individuals who are on their own. It is less daunting and they are probably relieved to have someone to talk to. Alternatively, approach groups where their body language is ‘open’, which means not standing too close or facing each other in deep conversation. Those who have not been brave enough to attend on their own, are often stood chatting to their work colleagues so they need to network!
Getting into Conversation - With individuals, clearly introduce yourself… When approaching a group, don’t just butt in, but ask a question like “Do you mind if I join you?”.
Talk about them first – take a genuine interest and see if there is anything you can do to help them – research shows that helping others is the most likely way to get business for yourself. Ask good open questions, and include “what sort of professions are good contacts for you”. Be helpful and genuinely interested.
Keep Moving – remind yourself of the why you are at the event. Don’t take the easy option of talking to the same person for too long, because it is easier to do that then start the process again. You are there to meet lots of people, so after you have gathered the information you need and mutually agreed a convenient date and time to speak again, politely excuse yourself and move on!
After the Event:
Evaluate – did you achieve your goals. If not, why not. Ask yourself was the event right for you. Or were you not as effective as you should have been.
Follow up – make contact as soon as possible to arrange a coffee.
Start Building the Relationship – find credible reasons to get and stay in touch, like…
- Share – ideas of opportunities of interest
- Update – on progress, market news or latest research
- Alert – them to a change in the market or research findings
- Ask – for their views, opinions, or feedback – how are things going for them
- Introduce – useful contacts to them
- Check – on what is happening and their current priorities
- Invite – to a seminar/event on a particular topic they are interested in
- Offer – help with something or offer the use of resources