When it comes to a networking event I'm as guilty as anyone else. My day is busy and when I go to a mid-day luncheon or other type of event, I just want to go to my table, sit down, and check emails on my phone until its over. I recently felt the sting of guilt when I was at an event considering the opportunities that I've missed and the wasted investment of myself or my employers when I've attended such functions. I have been searching the internet looking for the best tips and insights from experts and today I'd like to summarize what I have gleaned. Please don't hesitate to share additional insights or tips in the comments below.
Preparing for your next Networking Event:
- Stock up on business cards and make sure they are accessible in a shirt pocket or hand bag.
- Make sure that you have a pen handy. You may need to write down contact information of a newly made contact who is without a business card. You may also want to take notes from the presentation.
- Make yourself identifiable as a member of your group or company. Perhaps there is a tie, lapel pin, embroidered shirt, etc that will help identify you as a member of your organization. Wear your name tag when provided with one.
During the Networking Event:
- Avoid gravitating toward people that you know. Often current acquaintances can be helpful in introducing you to someone new but it will help you remember why you are there if you avoid seeking out those people in the beginning.
- Approach people who are alone or in smaller groups. Someone standing by themselves is much easier to approach and they will be grateful for someone to talk to. If you do approach people in groups wait to be invited before entering the conversation
- Focus on making a few high quality contacts rather than trying to gather as many business cards as you can.
- When conversing make eye contact and practice real listening. Try to learn more about the other person and avoid talking about yourself and your company.
- The best place for networking is near the main door or the food. Avoid approaching people who are moving toward an exit.
Following the Networking Event:
- Write on the back of your acquired business cards to indicate where you met that person. Also write any specific details about them that may help you recall who they are.
- Seek out your newly made contacts on LinkedIn and, when appropriate, on Facebook and Twitter as well.
- Within 48 hours send a short email to let them know you were grateful to meet them. Include your contact information in the email in case they have misplaced your business card.