Mastering Networking Events

Posted on October 18, 2016

We’ve all heard the statistics claiming that most people fear public speaking more than death. Well, for many, the idea of attending a networking event can be almost as traumatizing. But it doesn’t need to be! When you think about it, you’ve actually been “networking” since your days in the sandbox; the only difference now is that you have a very specific purpose and, ideally, a target audience in mind.

Regardless of whether you’re dreading, or excitedly anticipating the next such event, there are a few simple tips that will help you maximize this golden opportunity.

Tip #1 – Compile Your Own Who’s Who List.

Who would you like to meet? Knowing who might be at the event (ask the organizer for a list of those invited) will help you plan who you specifically want to meet. Then spend a little time on your computer. LinkedIn or even Facebook, will provide an abundance of information on their likes, dislikes, and hopefully, what you and this soon-to-be great new contact have in common. A little prep work will make that initial introduction a lot less awkward and certainly much more productive!

Tip #2 – Championship Chit-Chat.

While you should definitely have your “elevator pitch” well prepared, you do not want to lead with that! Now that you’ve gathered a little background on your new friend, why not bring up interests you have in common? Remember, people prefer to do business with people they know, and consider friends. Make a new friend, then bring out the pitch. Keep it light, upbeat, and short. Exchange cards.

Tip #3 – Don’t Get Stuck.

Keep moving! Even if you’ve met the most fascinating (or ready to bite) person, don’t get stuck in any one group. Remember, the idea of attending this event is to expand your network, not close a sell. Make a connection and move on to the next group.

Tip #4 – Follow Up.

Too many people consider a networking event a tremendous success based on the number of business cards they carry home. Those are just paper reminders that your real work has just begun. Best rule of thumb is to follow up with each new contact within 72 hours. Longer than that, and they have probably forgotten you, or will be a little suspect when you suddenly reach out. Be creative in your approach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a phone call, send a nice card reminding them of the pleasant conversation you had. Make a lunch date. Whatever works for you, just make sure to follow up!