How to survive and get the best out of your next networking event!
So you’ve got a networking event coming up, whether you have attended many in your time or this is the first event, here are a few key strategies to add to your survival kit!
Your time is very valuable, and you want to ensure you benefit and maximise your opportunities at these events. You can achieve this by working out your motivation to go in the first place; whether it be meeting someone in a new industry or approaching a specific person you know may be attending.
If you have time before the event do some research on who might be attending and who you might like to meet, LinkedIn is a great way to do this. This will keep you focused on the networking task at hand, and keep you excited and inspired leading up to the event.
Timing & Logistics
Start the event off right by coming on time to get the best seat! There’s nothing worse than having to sit in the last few seats in the room with a limited view, or having to stand instead!
Know where you are going and organize the best transport to get there. If you are driving, be prepared for parking fees by having some cash (including coins) on standby.
Finally, if possible – keep your diary minimal or flexible on the day of the event. You may get invited by a new acquaintance to talk further after the event finishes!
Accessorise or choose outfits that can spark conversation and make you stand out in the crowd and be remembered! Wear something that suits you, is comfortable, weather appropriate and reflects your personality. However you want to still look professional, friendly and approachable, so keep this in mind!
Ladies’ have the right handbag! If the event is catering food, it will be easier if you bring a bag that can be worn over your shoulder so you have your hands free to grab those canapes as they pass! Also make sure it’s not too heavy as you may be standing at the event for a few hours talking to people, and you want to be as comfortable as possible!
One step ahead
Get your foot in the door, because the best time to start networking will be at the beginning (during arrivals) and while food is still being served. If your goal is to chat with the presenters, be one step ahead keep in mind that as soon as the presentation finishes, people will flock to speak to the presenters or special guests (if allowed). If you have a seat towards the front, you shouldn’t have a problem getting an opportunity to meet and greet with them!
The art of conversation
It’s time to get your networking game on. This requires understanding and being aware of the fine balance between listening, asking relevant questions and demonstrating genuine interest to who you are speaking with.
It’s also essential that you remember your manners and at the very least the person’s name you have been introduced to! If conversing is not your strong point, invite someone to go with you to the event. You never know who else your plus one will either talk to, or be approached by that can make a fantastic industry connection or networking opportunity.
3 minute rule
Remember you may only get a maximum of a few minutes with the person you have met, and they may only get a few minutes with you before either of you is interrupted by someone else. In 3 minutes you want to be able to:
- Greet and introduce yourself
- Ask a few leading or relevant questions
- Exchange contact details or connect directly on social media eg; ‘Linkedin’
- Ask if they know anyone else at the event. This may lead you to make another connection with someone else!
Lastly, relax and enjoy. If you don’t quite take away what you wanted, there’s always the next event! Keep learning and growing from your experience to help achieve your goals next time.
Reel in any stragglers
You might know how it feels to walk into a room of people having conversations, not knowing where to stand or when to speak up. If you see someone one their own looking a little lost, tap them on the shoulder and invite them to join the conversation. You never know who you might meet.
- Business or contact cards
- Small bottle of water
- Notebook & pen
- Glasses in case you have a seat far away!
- Goals and questions ready
- Have your social media/online presence in working order