Business networking events can be crowded, awkward, and overwhelming. Often, attendees spend time talking to everyone they can, collecting business cards, and later ending up feeling like they wasted their time. For those who are not extroverts at all, they border on painful. These events can actually be extremely beneficial, but will be ineffective if approached the wrong way. This article provides six tips about how to not only survive the event but also get something valuable out of the experience.
1.Have some direction. If you don't have a clear goal from the minute you walk in the door, you are more likely to get overwhelmed and not know what to do. So, before the event, take a little bit of time to think about what you want out of the experience so that you and go into it fully prepared and ready to work towards your goal.
2.Look and act professional. First impressions do matter. Both your attire and your demeanor should be professional. Put on a suitable outfit, bring business cards, and make sure you are well-mannered throughout the entire event. Also, there is often alcohol available at these functions. It is absolutely fine to have one or two drinks, but if you don't know your limits, you will come across as unprofessional rather than as someone with whom people would like to conduct business.
3.Be positive and enthusiastic. Displaying passion and enthusiasm is an excellent way to inspire people and win them over. It can be contagious, fostering memorable conversations. Smiling will demonstrate warmth, and people will see you as friendly and inviting. Few things turn people off more than a negative attitude, so make sure that is not how you come across. Also, as in all areas of life, you are more likely to succeed if you are genuine and be yourself.
4.Talk to the right people. Don't stick with the people you already know. It may seem tempting to avoid the risk of awkwardness by talking to people you have already met and are comfortable with; however, this does not bring any new value to attending networking events. Instead, branch out. Actively seek out influences, thought leaders or industry experts, and people who are likely to be well connected. For example, the organizer of the event probably knows a lot about those in attendance and can help you determine who to approach.
5.Listen and ask questions for better conversations. It may seem counter intuitive to avoid talking about yourself. How will people know what you have to offer? Yes, your goal is to get something out of the event, but you are unlikely to make any real connections that will prove beneficial if all you do is self-promote. Instead, listen attentively to what each person is saying and ask good questions in order to demonstrate interest. You will learn something and find yourself engaging in sincere conversations that will more likely to spark genuine connections that will become mutually beneficial.
6.Make your life easier by jotting down brief notes after each valuable interaction. If you have a conversation that sparks a connection you would like to continue to build or in which you make any promises about further contact, jot down a few notes about the interaction on their business card immediately. You will need to follow up, so doing this will make it easier to personalize that communication with details from the conversation.
By following this guidance, you are likely to truly see something positive come out of your efforts at networking events rather than getting overwhelmed or overzealous.