If you’re like most people then you’ve probably been to a few networking events and weren’t really sure what to do. Maybe you felt awkward introducing yourself or didn’t know how long to talk to each person. The good news is that these are all pretty common for the majority of people. The better news is that it’s relatively easy to learn how to make the most of your next networking event.
- Be prepared – Have enough business cards in an easily accessible place. Then, have a “back-up” stack of cards in another pocket in case you run out. You should also bring a small notebook that fits in your pocket along with two pens.
- Dress appropriately ? Arrive underdressed and you usually won’t be taken seriously, overdress and you may be seen as pretentious. You should find out what the recommended attire is and dress similarly.
- Arrive early – There is no such thing as “fashionably late” when it comes to business. When you are one of the first people to show up, you have the chance to meet and talk to some of the other people that have shown up early with less interruptions.
- Work the room – Don’t spend your whole night talking to one person, no matter how promising a prospect they may seem. Spend between five to ten minutes with as many people as you have the chance to meet. Spending more time with each person cuts into the number of people that you and the people you are talking to will meet.
- Be a facilitator – If you see someone being a “wall flower” introduce them to a few people. It’s even better if you can introduce people that are likely to benefit from meeting each other. In doing this, you’ll be seen as a valuable resource but more importantly, you’ll also be helping other people – it’s not always about you.
- Follow up – Meeting people is the easy part, it’s following up afterwards that most people forget. A simple email or thank you card will set you apart from crowd and only takes a little time.