Grabbing networking opportunities is a must for those looking to boost brand awareness, meet new people and create new relationships and leads. Luckily for us, there is loads of events out there covering all sorts of areas and offering many different opportunities. However, this abundance does create the temptation to attend everything. For this reason, identifying why you’re looking to network is key. It’s all well and good attending every event, but if you aren’t gaining anything from them it can become a huge waste of resources.
Once you’ve figured out the objectives of your networking activity, you can put together your events timetable and start to plan for your events! Here’s a quick guide to help you effectively prepare for and make the most of your networking opportunities.
- Set yourself goals
Give yourself targets to achieve while you’re there. This could be to swap business cards with at least ten people, or successfully deliver your pitch to three. Whatever they may be, keep them simple, but be sure to hold yourself to them.
- Business cards
Take plenty of business cards, and be prepared to take details from those who don’t use business cards. This could be an app on your phone, or simply carrying a notepad and pen. Whatever method works for you - just don’t get caught short and potentially miss out on an opportunity to connect.
- Social Media
Check out what’s happening socially around the event and get involved! It’s a chance to chat with the organisers, which could be handy down the line, and also a good opportunity to identify who is going to the event.
- Introduce yourself
It can be nerve wracking entering a room of people and having to just jump in with introductions and chat. Your social media activity beforehand could give you a headstart here - you may be able to continue conversations started online, or others may approach you because they recognise you from LinkedIn. A good start is to beeline for the speakers - you will have engaged with them beforehand, so try and get some time with them.
- Your pitch
Have an idea of what you want to get across while you’re there, so when it comes to talking about yourself and your business you ensure you’re ready to communicate your value.
- Work the room
You’re at the event to meet people, but it is easy to get caught in conversation with one person. You’re in a room full of other people looking to connect, so do try and make the most of the event and meet as many people as possible.
- Introduce people
Have you met people in the room that you think it would be worthwhile introducing to each other? Do so! It helps with your reputation, and if the connection is of value, the parties involved may think of you in the future in similar situations.
- Follow up
Reach out to those you met at the event - connect on LinkedIn and send a quick personal ‘nice to meet you’ message. It’s a good way to reestablish and reinforce your meeting or move forward with actions discussed at the event.
- Practice makes perfect
Keep your eyes open for upcoming events and networking opportunities - networking takes practice, and if you keep at it you’ll become a natural at working a room and building valuable connections!
Interested in finding networking events local to you? Check out Eventbrite and start getting dates in your calendar!