There are in fact many types of networking events, ranging from breakfast meetings with a dozen people, to speaker luncheons with 100 attendees, to black tie dinners with more than 1,000. Consider each to be an opportunity where you can reap a valuable experience.
Attending events is only an effective use of your time and money if you do so with a plan. Ask these questions: What do I hope to gain from attending? It may be to learn from the speaker, meet prospective customers, increase your visibility, or network with your peers. The key is to think about your goals ahead of time, as the more tangible your plan is, the more likely you are to see results.
Here are the first four of Seven Networking Strategies:
1. Research the event or host prior to attending. You want to appear knowledgeable at an event, and the Internet makes this easy. This information will make it easier for you to engage in conversation. It only takes a few moments to read up and become familiar with the host organization, the guest speaker and topic, or the criteria for an awards program.
2. Invite key influencers to attend with you. Events are an easy way to utilize your inherent multi-tasking skills. When you make plans to attend an event, ask yourself which of your customers, prospects, vendors or employees might be interested in attending as well. This can be an extraordinarily good use of your time—not only will you be spending time networking, you’ll also be spending time with someone important to your business.
3. Spend your time both initiating new relationships and building existing ones. It is easy to arrive at an event, see a friend or colleague, and spend your time catching up with them. But you must also commit to meeting new people and initiating new relationships. Aim to meet three to five new people at each event. If you keep this goal in mind, you will be conscious of the time you spend talking with any one person.
4. Use strategic seating. When events feature a speaker or program, keep in mind that your networking does not have to stop when you take your seat. Try not to sit with someone you already know; instead, join someone you haven’t met. There will probably be a few minutes to chat with your tablemates prior to the start of the program. Be sure to introduce yourself to everyone as you take your seat and pass along your business card prior to departing.
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Otherwise, check back next week for Part 2 of Tips For Networking Events!!
Written for w2wlink.