In theory, networking represents “an exchange of information or service among individuals, groups, or institutions. The cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”
In practice, it’s a dreadful event that horrifies you because you need to make new connections and you don’t know where to start or what to do.
Sound familiar? Well, in that case, keep on reading and learn how to network properly and discover useful networking tips & tricks that will help you grow your business.
What Is a Networking Event?
There are different kinds of networking events:
Conferences – are industry-specific events where a guest speaker has a lecture on different topics related to your niche. It’s a great place to learn from others and to discover new hacks that will improve your business.
Meetups – are regular meetings where you can chat over drinks with people that share your interests and listen to a guest speaker. It’s a nice way to meet like-minded people or to land new clients. Make sure you check out local meetups.
Breakfast meetings – are less formal events, held in the morning over breakfast. They are usually industry-specific, but broader and still helpful to some part of your business. You can get in touch with potential customers and employers in a less formal atmosphere.
After-hours events – are casual networking events where you can meet various professionals over drinks and finger food. Even though the atmosphere is relaxed, you can still have proactive discussions and get feedback on your projects or issues.
Online networking – is an excellent way to act both locally and globally. Simply become a member of LinkedIn or Facebook groups related to your industry or target audience. This kind of networking will expand your market and you’ll have a chance to help your community which will establish you as an authority in the field.
Once you pick your event you can move to serious preparations.
Networking Tips to Help You Make a Great First Impression at an Event
1. How do You Prepare for a Networking Event?
Follow these tips before any networking event:
- Take time to think through and write down your goals for the event. Why do you want to attend the event? What are your objectives? Who do you want to meet?
- Do your homework on people you want to meet. Do the research on speakers and attendees you’d like to meet so that you have a basis for introductory conversations. That way, you’ll be memorable and you’ll stand out in the crowd.
- Create a system for gathering contact info – make sure you bring your business cards and bring a small notebook to write down the info of people who don’t have cards. Also, have a specific place where you’ll put all the business cards you get.
- What do you wear to a networking event? Plan your outfit in advance to send the right message about your business. Don’t overdress and don’t dress too informally either. Follow the office-casual dress code.
- Be ready to talk about your business. You can use this formula to introduce yourself briefly and intriguingly: I help X-people achieve Y-goal, or I help X-people solve Y-problem.
How do you introduce yourself during a networking event? How do you interact?
Follow these tips during a networking event:
- Introduce yourself informally but make sure to give a confident and firm handshake to give a positive impression. An elevator speech will help you: in a couple of sentences, describe your company and your position in your business. You can briefly add your purpose in attending the event.
- Mingle, mingle, mingle! Participate in discussions and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This way you’ll become known by other attendees, and they will appreciate your active participation.
- If possible, reach out to the speakers and compliment them on their speech. They are potential centers of influence which can send business your way.
- Make notes about your conversations and connections. This way, you won’t forget who you spoke to and what you spoke about.
How do I get the most out of my networking event?
Follow this simple tip after a networking event: Follow up right away! Connect on social networks, send an email or call your new acquaintances. Make sure to read how to write a follow-up email to send emails to your new contacts and leave a lasting impression!
So, choose an event that fits your needs, gear up and achieve your goals!