Networking: a fashionable word. Networking today is what going to the opera was some three centuries ago. The goal is to see and be seen, to find out the latest news and connect with the right people.
But attending a business networking event or conference is more complex and multifaceted than going to the opera. Not to worry - we can guide you through the essential steps to becoming a networking pro.
Define your networking goals: You are probably tired of setting goals for each action you take, at home and at work. Still, at the end of the day, this is a small price to pay in comparison to the potential outcome of not planning ahead. Think hard about what you want to achieve with your event participation: number of new contacts, feedback, useful information about potential partners and so on. Write it down and revise it from time to time, so you don’t lose focus.
Create your “one pager” info about everyone you are going to meet: We all know that just showing up and putting a big smile on your face is not enough to convince a potential partner. Real life experience proves that you need to build a solid introduction to start a meaningful conversation.
In fact, networking starts before you even attend the event. The Internet is a crucial tool - social media in particular. You can find relevant information about the people you would like to meet at the event by visiting their social media pages. This way, you’ll be one step ahead, ready to bring a relevant subject up in conversation, to make a joke your contact will appreciate, or to praise their achievements.
Avoid the four most common errors of networking:
- Don’t act like a stalker. If someone doesn’t respond to your invitation to meet and talk, don’t insist.
- Try not to interrupt someone when talking. Even though you may be very enthusiastic about the subject, keep your thoughts for later when it’s your turn to intervene.
- Don’t spread business cards around without a target. Offer them to those you made contact with and set a follow up.
- Don’t talk much about yourself. Reserve your speech for what you can do for your potential partner. Then, listen to what they have to say.
Follow up: Networking without follow up is half-networking. Set reminders to contact the people you’ve met at the event. Make sure you transform the notes you took into an action plan. If appropriate, add them to your social media accounts. Send them useful information; congratulate them for their anniversaries or achievements (if made public). But do it with moderation; don’t harass them.
Follow these basic steps and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll gain from networking.
MeetPrep is a personal attendee assistant that saves valuable time and resources when preparing for any major business event. Promoting your participation, inviting people to meet you and equipping you with the right intel are the key pre-event tasks we take off your plate to increase your ROI.