If you are an entrepreneur, you should know that sooner or later you will have to create or attend a networking event to boost your business. Just as the name suggests, the goal of these meetings is to engage with a group of clients, partners, or potential allies, and establish a strategic connection with them. Why is a strong network beneficial for your business? Find out here.
Unfortunately, when it comes to networking events, many people make the mistake of spending more time drinking and eating than engaging with people. To avoid these common mistakes, here is a list of suggestions to follow, before and after a networking event.
How to Use the List?
Reference this list and make a mental note of the ideas that will be most helpful for your unique situation. Don’t follow it as if it were an itinerary since you never know what can happen. Bear in mind that the process will only be successful if you win an ally and grow your business. The biggest risk you run when attending a networking event is growing your belly and not your business!
Before a Networking Event
1- Look for networking events
Naturally! How else would you start? Try the places that organize these events, like Meetup and Eventbrite, and look for the ones related to your business. For a complete list of the best websites to find networking events in your area, click here.
2- Find out who will be attending
Focus on the people that best suit your business. Can you contact them? You can look for their profiles on LinkedIn and find who their contacts are. If you can’t contact them directly, you could try through their contacts.
3- Have clear objectives
“Making your business grow” is a goal, but it’s vague. Ask yourself: why are you going to the event? Who do you want to meet? How will you approach them? You have to know the people you’re going to talk to and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for it.
4- Choose your best outfit
You’re going to an event, so dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a suit and a tie. You can research the type of event, and also, depending on the location and moment of the day, dress accordingly. Remember: You are not only going to connect, but you’re also going to represent your business. First impressions count.
5- Find tools to help you keep all the information
How will you keep all the information that you get at the event? Selena Soo recommends keeping all the business cards you receive in your pocket, and a little notebook for other information, like talks and conferences. Don’t forget to bring something as simple as pen a paper, but you could also go “paperless” with a digital notepad.
6- Bring your business cards
The same applies to you: many people would like contact information for your business, so bring a good amount of business cards.
7- Go well rested and remain professional
This tip is a little bit unconventional, but if you think about it, it’s the most important one to consider before and during the party. A big mistake that many make is to drink too much during networking events, losing their composure, and looking unprofessional. The same goes if you’re ill or sick. You have to go fresh, rested, and in optimal condition. Drink only one glass of wine, get good sleep, and please don’t speak with your mouth full!
Great! The event is over. You had lots of fun, talked a lot, and you surely met a lot of potential partners for your business, right? Now you’re wondering “What’s next?”.
Well, read below:
After a Networking Event
1- Organize your cards
Spread on your table all the cards you collected and organize them. What do you think about these people? What impressions did they leave you with? You could write it down on the reverse of the card to keep in mind certain characteristics of each one of them. And more importantly, because it’s time to check them out and begin making some calls.
2- Immediately contact people of interest
Most likely the people you spoke to during the event still remember you, so call them within 24 hours, while they still remember who you are! Attention: Some may not answer you, but don’t despair. They are probably busy, so send them an email instead. Give priority to those that are the best fit for your business, and be persistent in trying to make contact with them.
3- Send follow-up emails
You can contact your new partners by phone, but you could also send them a follow-up email. This is more thoughtful and unique than the usual phone call. For more information about how to write a proper follow-up email after a networking event, click here.
4- Develop relationships with social media
Whether by Facebook or LinkedIn, establish a long-term relationship using the digital world, and keep in touch with your new friends. Follow them all and invite them to follow you. Send them a message from time to time to maintain the relationship, but don’t harass them!
5- Schedule a meeting
Social media is excellent for making contacts, but it’s not the same as talking face-to-face. Meet your new friends somewhere to discuss your business further. Be considerate and choose a place and time that suits the other person.
6- Invite them to events
Allow your new friends to become a part of your life, and stay familiar with your business through future networking events. The idea is to build long-term relationships.
7- Make quality introductions
Behind every new friend, there is a whole range of potential contacts. Encourage sharing your contacts with each other so you can both benefit, and continue to grow your networking and business opportunities.
Now that you know these simple tips, what are you planning to do for your next networking event? For more advice on how to make your business grow, visit our blog.