Networking events are fabulous opportunities to meet new people and make connections that could ultimately open doors to new business ventures and the potential to generate a lot of money, both for your company and ultimately for yourself.
Whether a business event takes the form of a simple ‘meet and greet’ where you come along for a drink and canapés, or a full-scale occasion such as an expo, there are a variety of ways to make the most of them and take something positive away.
Decide Your Objectives
You should have an idea of your reasons for attending before you book yourself a delegate ticket or accept an invitation. Are you heading there to try and pitch your product to industry influencers, or is it simply the case that you’re looking to expand your contacts and start to build relationships with a view to generating leads later?
Ensure you have the right approach to a networking event, too. You’re a professional going to meet and hopefully make an impression on other professionals. If there are alcoholic beverages on offer, for example, you need to decide whether to have one or two or just steer clear completely.
Many people take the approach that a networking event requires them just to turn up and get involved. Yes, that is the point of them, but you need to know what your plan of action is.
If you’re promoting your brand, can you take flyers or a piece of literature to show what you’re about. If you’re only attending the first day of an event, for example, do you know whom the key attendees are, and where they’ll be so you can connect with them? Build your objectives into your plan for the event, and you’re halfway to success.
Ask a Lot of Questions
A classic novice business mistake is to go and spend time talking or running through a sales pitch with someone who isn’t interested in what you do.
If you’re doing the asking and the listening, rather than the talking, then you can ensure you only get involved with in-depth discussions with those who can offer value and business potential to you.
Focus on Quality, not Quantity
How often do we see this given as a piece of business advice? If you spend a day at an event and make five quality connections, don’t go away thinking you should have made 10 or 20. If you build a strong connection with a few delegates, this is far better than buzzing around all day bouncing off people, handing out business cards and feeling like you’ve connected with dozens of people, when in reality all you’ve probably done is annoy them.
If you do go for the ‘see as many people as possible’ approach, the other delegates will see right through it, and your business card will probably be filed with the trash. Try to avoid spending too much time talking to people you already know, too. Yes, say hello, and catch up, but look to move on quickly.
What Should You Get From It?
This obviously depends on your own objectives, but ideally you should be looking to make a connection with at least a handful of people with whom you will be able to approach with a view to working together moving forward, whether as a pure business partnership or as a mutually beneficial arrangement.
To ensure this happens, look to re-connect with people within two to three days of meeting them at an event. Remember to re-introduce yourself, too, everyone at the event probably has a similar number of connections, “the guy you spoke to at lunch” won’t be sufficient for anyone to remember you by.
Join Enthuse so that you have something different about you and can engage with new connections away from the traditional social networks. By following these steps, you will be in a great position to move forward and take advantage of your new connections and relationships.
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Author Bio -
Cristen Bagley is a social media and business networking expert who holds regular seminars for clients highlighting the best ways to build business relationships.