I’ve shared a lot on networking but today I want to concentrate on what to do at a networking event to make it your most productive use of your time and take advantage of the opportunities presented.
What to Do at a Networking Event
Do you have a notepad, business cards, attendee list, and comfortable shoes? Have you ever done what I’ve done, attended a networking event but left your business cards at the office. Yea, I have. This might help,
Dress the Part
The last thing you want to do is be out of place because you over or underdressed. Vet the event before attending. Where is it being held, what time of day, and who’s attending might help inform you as to what to wear. If it’s a regular event are there photos from previous events? If you know someone attending seek their advice, if not contact the organizers and ask them for suggestions. Please remember what you wear to a virtual event matters not only for your appearance to others, but also how it makes you feel about yourself.
Know Your Purpose, Have a Goal
What do you hope to gain? Are you seeking a new position, business connection, client, or vendor? Know your priorities before the event. What do you need and where do you need help? Who can help you and how can they help? Review the attendee’s list to determine who can offer assistance and who may be able to introduce you to those who can.
Listen first before you speak. Make and hold eye contact, carry a notebook and take notes, don’t interrupt and don’t walk away abruptly to visit another group. If you want to leave a positive impression, give each speaker your full attention. When you do speak be succinct, get to the point, don’t ramble and don’t pontificate. If it’s a virtual event stay focused do not task switch stay on task.
Do Not Sell
A networking event shouldn’t be a pitch my product zone and if it is you’re at the wrong event. Don’t be a carnival barker hawking your wares with a “Step right up and see what I have!” approach. Your approach shouldn’t always be selling. Even if an introduction to a potential customer is your goal, you should be learning their needs and solving their problems not selling your product. Always be helping.
In this Psychology Today post they share, “…each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, and make you both more attractive…” What better ingredients for a successful networking introduction could there be? Creating symbiosis, a feeling of well-being, and attraction is a good start. Connections based on mutual needs and interests, can be compelling, but they don’t always start there, do they? Sometimes it starts with only a smile. Do I need to say this? Maybe, smiles are as important if not more so when it’s a virtual event.
Know What You Want To Say
Do you have your elevator pitch ready? What’s the purpose of your EP? Ultimately, the goal of the elevator pitch is to continue the conversation. What would intrigue others to talk with you more? What do people want to talk about? I believe most people want to talk about themselves and their organizations. What are the last five words of my elevator pitch? “How may I help you?” Do We Really Need One More “How to Write an Elevator Pitch?” Article.
Be a Connector
I’m a connector, I connect people, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. I look for ways they may help each other, but here’s the thing. I wasn’t always a connector. When I was younger, I was selfish. Connectors can’t be selfish. It doesn’t work. Having a “me first” attitude isn’t the way to bring people together. And here’s the other thing, “me first” didn’t work. It drove people away. Being a connector is attractive to others. It’s a magnet of positivity, and it’s a heckuva lotta fun being a Connector.
Networking doesn’t end at an event. Without a follow-up plan, your efforts are relying on luck. You hope they remember you. Maybe they’re good at follow up and will contact you. Why chance it? Pick who can help you, keep your name in front of them, finds ways to be of service to them, and good things will happen.
What to Do at a Networking Event?
The old Boy Scout motto fits. The number one thing anyone can do to get the most out of a networking event is to come prepared. By following the nine points listed above, you’ll not only be ready for your next event but be a mover and shaker who makes things happen. And here’s one last thing to file under what to do at a networking event, have fun!
Are You a Good Networker?
I’d always considered myself an effective networker. I’m friendly, easy to talk to, and I’ve never met a stranger. However, none of that makes me a good networker – it makes me outgoing. If I wanted to be the most effective networker I could be I needed a plan. That’s how my networking workbook, Help Networking started.
My plan probably won’t be your plan. That’s why throughout the book there are worksheets, checklists, and simple CTA’s. Use these to create a networking plan that fits your needs.