If you’re not attending networking events, then it’s time to find what you’re missing out on. They’re a great opportunity to expand your feelers in every direction that could potentially help, whether you’re at the head of a business or working as an individual. Finding partnerships for resource and effort sharing, potential employees, and great information is what they’re all about. But if you want to get the best results from those events, then you’re going to need the right game plan for them.
Create real goals
What is it you want from a business event? You want to get to know some influencers who could expand your brand? Are you looking for advice from more established business owners? Or perhaps you’re looking for speaking opportunities? Whatever you want, you need to make sure you’re focused on that goal. If you have no idea what you want from a networking event, then it’s very easy to spend the duration of them wandering around and getting very little done.
Set goals like those at http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/02/10/network-effectively-to-reach-your-goals and figure out the people who you want to speak to and why. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t mingle and enjoy conversations with those you weren’t planning to talk to. It’s just a good idea to make sure you have some direction to go off of.
Research the others who will be there
When a networking event pops up, it’s very likely that they’re going to make it public knowledge. After all, they want people to know they’ll be there. You should want that too, but we’ll get to that in a bit. For now, we’re going to focus on how paying attention to this information is going to help you make the best impression. By researching them prior to the event, then you’re more likely to understand what they want from the event and how to direct the conversation.
As we said, many attendants will be making it clear that they’re attending. You should be doing the exact same thing. Many networking events will use things like a newsletter or even a Twitter hashtag to spread news. Get in touch with the show runners and get on the hashtag to start sending out the message that you’ll be there. If you have something to offer, then it’s a good idea to put that on the message, too. After all, you’re not sure whether or not there might be others who have goals of meeting people just like you at the event. By neglecting to shine the spotlight on yourself a little, you could be missing opportunities without even realizing it.
If you’re at a business event, you want to make the right kind of impression as soon as people see you. Dressing and appearing professionally is important, of course. You want people to take you seriously. But you also want them to know what brand you represent and why you’re there. Whether you’re there as an individual or you’re there with some other members of the team, you should use some kind of visual signifier like lanyards from https://www.promotionalproductscenter.com/lanyards to help people identify you at a glance. After all, if they’re able to discern who you are, then they might be more likely to simply come up and strike a conversation.
Have something interesting to say
As well as preparing for what you want from the event and the people that you want to meet, you should also prepare an idea of what you have to offer. If you want to strike up a business partnership or you want to attract some new talent to your team, you need to do a little selling. It’s never a good idea to prepare a business pitch to rehearse it verbatim to the people you meet. However, it is a good idea to prepare a few topics. What you offer will depend, of course, on who you talk to. If you’re looking for potential employees, then you will want to focus on what your business can offer individuals and the kind of work they can expect to you. If you want a business partner, then you should memorize some of the resources and assistance you’re able to offer.
Never underestimate small talk
Having a point to get to is going to help you maintain control of a conversation and not have it dip off to mutual silence. But that doesn’t mean you should cut straight to business. Networking events are more than the arbitrary exchange of information and resources. They’re a personal experience. People like to get to know the other attendants. If you try to ignore the role that small talk plays, then you’re more likely to come off as rude more than anything else. It’s also a good idea to take the time to memorize the little personal details that people mention about themselves. It makes you seem like you’re a lot more engaged in the conversation.
Don’t forget to follow up
At networking events, you have a much higher opportunity to set a reputation for yourself. Make good partnerships, be a good sport, and bring some value, and you will help your reputation. Be too brusque or too unfocused and it will reflect poorly on you. One of the worst things you can do for your reputation, however, is to neglect to follow up. Even if you don’t see any potential in a future with someone there, make just a little effort to touch base with them and thank them for talking to you. Look at templates like https://www.themuse.com/advice/finally-5-email-templates-that-make-following-up-with-anyone-way-less-awkward but don’t copy them word for word. It’s a good idea to just use them as a base to personalize from.
Build your prestige and market presence. Cooperate with contemporaries who can directly contribute to your customer base-building. Spot the talent that could give your business what it needs to excel. Networking events should become a core part of how you improve your business every year.