In the past 5 years I have met some amazing people and great connections during networking events. At first it was uncomfortable trying to make small talk with a stranger. But I have learned quickly that I was not alone in feeling awkward even for those who seem to work the room. We are all here to meet people we don’t know anyway. So, here is my method for having a fun time at a networking event.
- Communicating with others at network event is a wonderful way to be yourself in explaining what you do and why you are attending the event. Use the time to make meaningful connections while having good conversations. Maybe a shared hobby interest or an area of business that you are interested in. Exchange cards and tell them you will connect via email or LinkedIn within the next few days.
- Be the link… As you meet people, keep in mind the needs of someone you just met. Remember it really is not all about you. In a network environment you are constantly gathering information and relaying the data to others, people will remember you as the person who connected them. Plus, a networking event is not a time to see how many cards you can get. Instead it is a time to develop a few relationships at a time.
- Have a plan on how to follow-up with your new connections. Make some notes on their card and send a personalized email or LinkedIn connection. Remind them where you met, tell them something you discussed so they feel like you listened and that you are interested in them, not just their connections. Don’t procrastinate, you will run the risk of your new connection forgetting who you are. Plus, your contact will be impressed you followed up in the time frame as you said you would.
- Put away your phone… Refrain from checking texts, send an email or taking a call while you are at the event. I know sometimes we feel lost without connecting to our technology, but holding your phone is a distraction that should be avoided. If you need to take an important call, step outside and take your call privately.
- Plan to go to at least 1-2 networking events per month. This will help you grow your network and become comfortable with your networking skills.
Understand the internet is a very big network, with just a few new connections done right can make a huge difference to your personal success.