New to the networking event scene and not sure where to start? Just follow the 3 tips to networking success, and you are all set!
Search for relevant networking events
Your first step is to identify your needs so you can focus on the events that best fits your goals, budget, and comfort level. Take the time to find industry events relevant to you and do thorough research to determine which one’s the best for your business. Here are some tips to get you started:
Ask friends and business associates: You can’t go too far wrong asking people you know and trust to give you recommendations when vetting a networking event. Turn to your entrepreneur friends and ask them about any events they previously attended and enjoyed. Ask them why they enjoyed the particular event and checked out the structure of the event. Some events have a program that they adhere to such as allowing attendees a 15-minute presentation to talk about their business or profession.
If that’s not your cup of tea, you will need to skip that sort of meetings and look for more casual ones where you can merely mingle without having a set agenda. You can also ask your friends whom did they meet and would they recommend that you attend the event? Asking these questions should help you decide which functions are worth the investment. You can also check with any industry-relevant groups and organizations you belong to for a recommendation. For additional resources, you can also check out www.eventbrite.com listings to find an event that strikes your fancy.
Have the right
Do not go to the event with only your agenda in mind. Instead, you ought to focus on meeting new people and being genuinely interested in them. Find out more about the people you meet and their brand stories. If you can extend help, then do so without expecting anything in return. You are there to connect and network not to do business solely. Entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan said, “Calculating your way to the top doesn’t work–in part because nobody can see far enough ahead but also because such calculation shows and doesn’t attract givers, followers, or supporters.”
So attend events with an open mind and giving mindset rather than focusing on only connecting with people you think that can benefit your career or business. Share advice openly and make introductions when relevant and appropriate. Keep in mind that helping out doesn’t always take place on the event floor. In fact, most of it will happen after the function has taken place so linger and chat with those you feel connected to.
Stay in touch
People often say, “I will call you” or “Let’s get together again to talk further,” but not many follow through. Firstly, only use those lines when you mean it and if you don’t plan to keep in touch then “It was great meeting you” would suffice as a parting line. If you are keen to stay in touch, then make it a point to schedule a meeting time. If you don’t have a specific agenda or a need to meet up right away after the event, you can stay in touch by dropping your new acquaintance a short email or text.
Remember no selling, no agenda, so it’ll be just a quick “Great to meet you that day.” It’s also a great idea to personalize your messages by bringing up the specific things you talked about during the event or offer a customized tip or contact that they can apply in their business or mentioned that they need. When you follow up, it’s a great way to make an impression considering a lot of people don’t always follow through those that do only want to send a sales pitch. Be different and focus on connecting and staying connected. That’s the true essence of networking.