What Are Networking Events?

What Networking Event is?

Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.

Networking at a conference with a bunch of strangers can be intimidating. And it can feel more comfortable to attend an event with someone you know (or stick with someone you met at lunch on the very first day). But hiding in comfort zone limits your opportunities to network and make a diverse range of contacts.

Networking can be stressful until you’ve done it at least few times. The more people you talk to the more opportunities you may achieve.

Luckily, there’s a whole collection of networking tips to help you round out the rough edges over time. Peek at this list and learn how to network like a pro before your next big event. Use these networking tips to smash it at your next event.

 

1.      Plan Ahead:

Before you head to an event, you must plan your networking strategies and look at the list of registered delegates. If there are specific people you hope to meet and connect with, prepare ahead of time by reading their latest work, social posts, and any news on the organization they work for.

If you’re at an event for the first time (or on your own) and are having trouble getting into the networking zone, stop by the exhibitor booths and have a chat with some of the people there. They are generally friendly and happy to chat, which makes this a great way to warm up your conversational chops

 

2.      Prepare a Conversation Starter:

Before you leave for the event think of some conversation starter to use in a variety of different contexts. Some simple ones to start with: “Where are you from?” “What brings you to this conference?” “What sessions/speakers are you looking forward to most?” OR “Which ones did you enjoy? “Keep this under 30 seconds. It should be information you can convey while standing in the line to get coffee.

 

3.      Exit Strategy:

A good close is the key to leaving a lasting and positive impression on the people you meet while networking at an event. But sometimes, you may find yourself in a conversation you wish you had never started or one that drags on and takes up valuable time you could be using to meet new people. Plan your exit strategy so you can politely leave a conversation if necessary.

Before you leave a conversation, make sure you use the person’s name to reinforce your memory of it. A simple “Talk to you later [Name]” or “Well [Name], it was great meeting you.” will do. If they haven’t offered their name yet, you can say something like: “Actually, before I go, I didn’t catch your name. What was it?” before you part ways. Being interested in someone’s name and saying it out loud is one of many quick tips for networking and making a good impression.

 

4.      Engage With Key Contacts:

Once you’ve prepared to attend an event and done your networking research, consider reaching out to key contacts you’d like to meet in advance. Follow them on LinkedIn or Twitter and introduce yourself, saying that you’re looking forward to meeting them at the conference. This increases the chances of them striking up a conversation with you in person and makes a positive first impression that shows your genuine interest in them.

Later, when it comes time to meet people, focus on listening more than talking. Frame the discussion around what the other person seems interested in and think about what you can offer to that person. Avoid the temptation to convince people that you’re an interesting and valuable contact during the first meetups. This often leads to you doing most of the talking – which doesn’t give a great impression and reduces the information you can gain for developing these relationships in the future.

 

5.      Conference Badges/Business Cards:

One of the handiest networking tips is to use conference badges to their full advantage. Name, job title, organization – all the key information you need to put your conversation into context is right there. And, if you’re lucky, the event organizers will have put some thought into a top-notch conference badge design to make networking easier for you. Use this tool to your advantage at every conference, even if it’s simply to help you remember names.

Business cards are an old reliable in the networking tip toolbox, and it’ll be a long time before they go out of style. Put some thought into yours and make sure you print enough cards to last you the entire event. Include basic information like your name, organization, and email. Also, consider adding your social information and a photo to make it easier for others to remember you and keep in touch.

But be cautious of falling into the business card trap (i.e. robotically passing on your details without engaging in truly valuable networking). Attempt to strike up a genuine conversation first. Then, if someone doesn’t have the time or must move on before the conversation has finished, you can exchange cards and plan to get in touch later.

 

6.      Maintain your old connections:

Now, all this discussion about meeting new people and networking in a conference full of strangers doesn’t apply to every case. In fact, more often than not, you’ll find yourself at an event with at least a few familiar faces from other events or work you’ve done before. The most valuable networking isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. Maintain relationships with the contacts you make over time and focus on making friends, not just contacts.

 

7.      Keep networking after the conference ends:

Networking doesn’t end when the event does. Some of the most important conversations and opportunities occur long after the doors of the venue close. So, follow-up with each person you met at the conference and don’t leave it too long. A simple thank you and inquiry into how the event went for them is enough to keep your name fresh in their mind.

 

Final Thoughts:

Figuring out how to promote yourself in a way that fits the context of a conversation is one of the toughest networking tips to master. Primarily because we’re often uncomfortable with self-promotion. It’s important to keep the “giving” attitude while networking, but if you fail to promote yourself, you won’t reap the benefits of all your hard work. You know best what you have to offer, so put it out there with confidence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *