I consider myself to be really good at networking. I’m referring to the true, relationship based networking and not the kind that I often experience that leaves me with a negative impression. When you attend a networking event, do you: prepare ahead of time, make the most of your time during the event and follow up afterwards? That is only the beginning of the conversation to ensure that you are leaving a positive impression and networking effectively. Below I share some tips to help you make the most out of your next professional networking event. If you have some tips of your own please let us know!
- Be prepared! Of course you need your business cards with you but you may want to, if possible, know who is going to be at the event. If you do then consider identifying someone new to meet while at the event. In addition to knowing who you want to meet and having your business cards, be prepared to make appointments! You may find that someone wants to schedule a time to meet with you so be sure to have your calendar handy!
- The nametag. Take a few minutes to contact your promotional products company and order yourself a professional nametag. It says a lot about your image, brand and professionalism. You’ve taken the extra step and you appear to care about the tiniest of details. Wear your nametag to every networking event and wear it on your right side! Most people shake hands right away (and with their right hand). When you have your nametag on your right side their eyes travel from the handshake up the arm and to your nametag.
- Open Up! When chatting in a small group at a networking event always leave one space open so that your group is inviting to others. If you’re in a closed circle your group is no longer inviting others to join your conversation. It is a networking event so you want to make sure that people feel comfortable joining you for conversation.
- Be a Host. When you attend a networking event behave as though you are a host. Welcome people, introduce others, and thank them for attending. Don’t take the place of “the” host but network as if you are a host. This will boost your confidence, make you stand out in the room and position you as a connector!
- What’s Your Number? Always go into a networking event with a goal of how many new people you want to meet. Stick to it no matter what. It’s like the number of ounces of water you must drink in a day. Don’t let the day end without drinking your prescribed ounces of water. The same thing goes for a networking event. Do not let the event end without having met the number of people you said you would meet.
- Who is Your Buddy? Most people do not want to attend an event alone so find another professional to network with. If possible find someone in your industry or your niche market so that you can meet new people and introduce them to each other. Having a networking buddy makes events easier to get to and enjoy. BUT don’t feel like you must stick with that buddy the entire time. You need to branch off and network independently as well!
- Follow up! After the event, be sure to send a quick email to let them know that it was nice to meet them. Schedule a coffee meeting to continue your discussions and connect with your new colleague on LinkedIn. The follow up is often the most missed opportunity but can very well be the most effective piece of networking. Networking does not stop when you walk out the door; instead it continues well after the event has happened.
Networking is not a scary part of being a professional. It may take some practice for some people but with the tips above you can easily enter your next networking event with confidence, excitement and a positive attitude. We would love to hear your tips for effective networking. Please contact us, tweet to us or post on our Facebook wall with your networking tips!