Ready to attend your next networking event? Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth, there’s always something to learn about making a good impression and connecting with other business owners and “higher-ups”. There’s a right way and a wrong way to approach networking events, and knowing the difference can determine whether the event is a waste of time or a launching pad for your business.
The most important thing to remember with networking events is that your goal is to meet others, not to push yourself, your product, or your service on others. It’s about making strategic relationships that you can benefit from later. With this mindset, you’ll be able to successfully network with others.
Check out these keys to success for networking events.
- Start off on the right foot. The first person to network with is the registrar. Speak with them about the event, get their card and share a little about who you are. Since they act as the gatekeepers for the event, they know everyone. They are good people to know and they can point you in the direction of the organizer (another good person to chat with) and any other important contacts.
- Introduce yourself, but don’t overdo it. During your introduction, don’t launch into a laundry list of the benefits of what you do. Focus your message on a 25 words or less pitch that will help you share a little about what you do in a memorable way.
- Don’t discount small talk. Yes, you are technically at a networking event for business. But this doesn’t mean that all of your talk needs to be about business. Small talk can help you bond with other people at the event and share a bit more about yourself. When you focus on being present in the moment and listening to whomever is speaking, you’ll stand out. So many people at networking events are “half there”. Be an active listener, but don’t ask all of the questions. A true conversation has a natural give and take.
- Be interesting and memorable. How often have you gotten someone’s card and then not been able to remember a thing about them? Don’t be this person for others! Find a way to show off a bit about who you are (using small talk) or have a great description of what you do that puts a unique spin on your business. The more you give people to remember, the more likely they’ll turn to you when they have a connection worth sharing.
- Focus on getting cards, not giving them out. Pushing cards on other people is no way to make a good an impression. Instead, focus on collecting cards from others and making notes about the contact after you’ve left. Not only will you make your contacts feel listened to, but you’ll be able to jog your memory when you need to contact that person in the future.
Networking events can launch your start up or small business into the next level. With these keys, you can make sure that your networking time is well spent.
Research Analyst, Pacific Business Centers (rebranded as Pacific Workplaces)
Courtney’s research for Pacific Business Centers focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and the future of work trends.