Whether you love networking at events or it strikes fear into your heart, it is an inevitable component of marketing that allows you to maintain relevance, continue to get your name out, build up your network, and remain competitive. In the past, we’ve looked at some ways that integrated marketers can project self-assurance in networking situations. Now The Event Manager Blog has put together a video and post about five practices to help you get the most out of your networking opportunities.
Go It Alone
While there is always comfort in numbers, sticking with your colleagues or people you already know will not help you to make new connections. Now is the time to explore who else may share your viewpoints or be able to bring you new business. Payscale recommends hanging out near the food or drink areas since everyone will eventually gravitate there, allowing you the opportunity to initiate small talk.
Prep for Your Prospects… and Don’t Forget Social
In addition to being a resource for promoting your organization’s events, social media is a great way to get up-to-date on who you might meet at a networking event. If you see on social media that some attendees you want to connect with have said they’ll be at the networking event, see if you can set up a meet & greet. Make time to set some goals for the event that will help you focus your efforts.
You Have Two Ears and One Mouth
When you’re nervous, do you ramble on about yourself? Try to curb that impulse when networking. Show sincere interest in each person you talk with—maintain eye contact, listen closely, and build a rapport. It’s better to focus on making a few solid connections than making it rain business cards while constantly looking for the next person you can connect with on LinkedIn. Ask questions, including some prepared ones if you need to get the ball rolling.
Be Particular About the Events You Attend
There are enough networking events available to keep you busy every night of the week, but be strategic with your time. Focus on the depth of your interactions, instead of breadth. Select those events that you find comfortable for encouraging conversations with new people, but allow for serendipitous encounters that may turn out to be the most valuable.
Take Your Cue from LinkedIn
Find out if any mutual contacts will be attending the event that can introduce you to coveted potential clients. Or be that key contact for someone else, if you have the connections they need. Warm introductions like these are always more effective than cold contacts. Remember your goals and continue to meet new people as time permits rather than lingering with the first person you engage with meaningfully.
Integrated marketers who put these five tips into practice will be able to substantially up their networking game. In all likelihood, many of the people attending these events have the same reservations and goals, so if everyone is thoughtful, considerate and prepared, networking can actually be beneficial…and maybe even fun!