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Networking events can be a highly productive endeavor or a complete waste of your time. Since there are much better ways to waste time, let’s assume that you want the marketing event to be productive. Here are a couple of tips to help you make the most of your time there.
Decide On A Purpose
It’s important to have an idea of your goals before you attend a networking event. Each one is slightly different from the others. Before you choose which events you’ll attend, do a bit of research to find the events that best match your goals.
In other words, what is your objective for the event? Are you looking for a business partner? Maybe you need an investor for a new project. Maybe there’s a speaker presenting whom you’re dying to talk to. Maybe you just want to meet other people in your field and learn a couple of new things about your industry.
Take a minute to ask and answer these types of questions before deciding on which events to attend. Identifying your objectives makes it easier to narrow your search and identify the networking events that will help you fulfill your goals.
Networking events can be intimidating, especially if you’re a little on the shy side. However, it’s best to go to professional networking events by yourself so you don’t retreat to the familiar surroundings of friends and coworkers. Going alone not only forces you to talk to other people, it also makes you less intimidating to approach. Since the goal of a networking event is to actually network with other professionals it only makes sense that you would want to do everything possible to encourage mingling.
Be A Social Butterfly
Nobody notices a wallflower. The more people you meet at a networking event, the more likely it is that someone you meet will help you fulfill your objectives both now and in the future. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for the world to see.
However, try to avoid being stuck in half-hour long conversations. Networking events are a meet-and-greet. Spend 5-10 minutes per conversation then wind it down and introduce yourself to someone new.
Be A Note Taker
Bouncing around the room from one conversation to another means it’s going to be nearly impossible to remember specifics about most of the people you meet. There’s nothing wrong with taking notes. Carry a pen with you, ask for a business card and scribble out a couple of quick notes during your conversation. Later, when you’re at home or back at the office you’ll be able to recall the person, the conversation and your impression of them with more ease.
Limit Your Booze Intake
There’s no denying that a drink or two relaxes us and makes it easier to talk to strangers. Watch yourself. Moderation is the rule at networking events. Nothing can bring your day to a screeching halt like getting sloppy drunk and making a fool of yourself in front of colleagues and valuable professional connections.
Meeting someone for ten minutes at a networking event isn’t going to help if that’s the only interaction you have with them. The follow up is the most important part of making a lasting connection with a new acquaintance. The day after an event, carve out a block of time to fire off an email, tweet or Facebook message to the people you met at the event. It’s also a good idea to thank the hosts of the event. They typically have a large network and connecting with them may give you access to it in the future.