Preparing yourself for business networking events is easier said than done. Many people completely misunderstand the point of networking events and have little idea why they are attending them apart from hunting for business, or what they should be doing in order to enhance their credibility at the events.
Over the past year, how many business networking events did you attend?
Were the events you attended helpful?
Out of all the people you met at those events, how many of them are you still in contact with right now?
Working The Room
Working the room is exactly as it sounds. Work the crowd, whether individually or as groups, and produce results through finding good contacts and opportunities. You do this by spending your time interacting; talking with people, listening to people and answering any questions people may have about your industry or your business. Likewise, ask them questions about their business and their industry. Make the topic of conversation about them as this is smarter and more strategic to networking then talking about yourself the entire conversation.
There are different reasons why people attend business networking events. Some attend so that they can meet specific people. Others take part to meet people who are in the same industry as they are, and some people attend to meet potential clients. However, remember that a networking event is not a hunting ground and if you go in with the attitude ‘let me sell my services to see how much business I can pick up’ then you won’t get very far.
There are also people who attend networking events not only for business, but to identify with other people and see where socialising will lead. Possibly to make new friends, to see if there is a potential job vacancy at other businesses or the opposite, to recruit or headhunt brilliant candidates to join your team. Whatever the reason for attending a networking event, you must prepare yourself so that you will produce the positive results that you seek.
6 Tips To Prepare Yourself For Business Networking Events
Establish The Mindset Of A Networker
Give yourself a few minutes to tap into the right mindset. To do this, focus on your goals. You are going out there to connect with new people. You want to leave those new people with a good, lasting impression. You are also going out there to find people who can help you and people you can help. Have an open mind and show a genuine interest in the people you meet. Use your smile to break the ice. Be mindful of mutual benefits and figure out how you can help other people first, and then they will naturally help you in return.
Having the networker mindset will help you remain focused on your goals and guide your intentions perfectly when you approach people. By this, you’re making yourself attractive to others.
Be Knowledgeable Of The Event
Before you attend an event, you need to make sure you know what kind of event it is and be knowledgeable of the theme. Here is a list of things you should figure out prior to attending:
- The Key Topic
- Who The Keynote Speakers Are (if any)
- What They Will Discuss
- The Industries That Will Be Discussed
- The Crowd The Event Will Draw
By figuring out this information beforehand, you will know what to expect at the event and who will be there. This will help you assess what you will be able to gain and how you can potentially help other people who attend the event.
Who Will Be There
This is an important tip. You should find out who or which company representatives will be at the event. For many business networking events, you can actually find out the complete list of people attending. You may find the list of attendees at the event’s website or by calling the organising team. If the event has set up a ‘meet up‘ page then this can provide a complete list. There are also networking event apps like ‘Bizzabo‘ that can reveal this information for you if it’s being used by the organisers.
After you have seen the list of attendees, make a note of specific people that you would like to talk to at the event. Research the attendees through searching on Google and social platforms like Linked In where you can learn more about the people before you meet them. This valuable information will help you approach them in confidence and talk about what interests them which in turn, will leave a lasting impression of you.
When you attend a networking event with people in mind, and you have gathered information about those people, you will be able to break into conversation and form connections instantaneously. This is a great way to maximise the effectiveness of networking.
You should aim to attract people by being visible. Firstly, you need to wear nice clothes that adhere to the dress code of the event. Secondly, why not add something to your outfit that makes you standout such as carrying a unique, vintage notebook, wearing an outstanding tie that speaks character or even a lapel pin which can be a conversation starter. These little additions will draw people to you and give them something to remember you by.
When you dress well, you exhibit self-respect. You also show that you respect your position and the position of others. The additional accessories like the vintage notebook makes you stand out and people may find that interesting enough to strike up a conversation.
Prepare Your Introduction
The first impression you make on someone is very important. Before the event, prepare your introduction pitch. Use these tips to help you prepare:
- Focus your pitch on who you are and what you are looking for.
- Also, express your personality. Add some emotion and passion to your personal story, and try to be less informative and monotonous.
- Repeat your name twice in your introduction and at least one more time during your discussion.
Use this format: ”Hello, my name is John.” Stop for a second and continue with, “John Smith.” Then in the conversation insert your name, here is an example: “A great piece of advice I received from him was when he said, ‘John’….”
This will reflect your confidence and express your personality. This will help you communicate your message effectively and also, leave little chance of the person forgetting your name as they may be a little hesitant on asking for it again.
Do Not Forget Your Business Cards
I firmly believe that the more prepared you are for an event, the better you will be able to set good foundations. The people you meet at business networking events could be some of your best connections with whom you can build long term relationships that are mutually beneficial.
So, you really want to keep business cards at hand and plenty of them. During the conversation, exchange business cards and actually make note on one side where you met the person. If for some reason you don’t have any cards, don’t worry take their card and promise them you’ll be in touch.
I am honestly interested in what you do to prepare for networking events. Are there any benefits you feel you have gained from your preparedness?
Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments below!