Networking is much more than showing up for free food and passing out business cards, it's about meeting people and sharing what you do and learning about them whilst making contacts and fact finding that will help you in the future. Although all of this can be daunting the rewards can be well worth putting yourself out there. We have compiled some of our experiences and advice in order to help you put your best foot (or business card) forward at your next networking event.
Stop Attending EVERY event – don’t waste your time, do your research and make sure you can benefit from the function. Will there be people there you could do business with? Is it in a realistic geographical location to where you do business? And is it relevant to the industry you work in?
Don’t be someone you’re not - you will meet more successful types, over achievers and incredibly interesting people. The best thing is to just be yourself and stay authentic, people buy off people so if you want your new contacts to work with you make sure they see and meet the real you. This is imperative to establishing not only an initial connection, but a fruitful long-term professional relationship.
Don’t collect business cards and make promises of catching up or connecting on social media if you don’t plan to. As soon as you leave the event connect with everyone you met on LinkedIn and pop them a personalised one line in-mail letting them know you enjoyed meeting them. One of the biggest qualms in the business world today is a lack of follow up – stand out from the rest and show you are professional and keep your word!
Don’t stand around waiting for someone to approach you – yes it’s overwhelming walking into a room of strangers, but the best thing to do is eat the frog and approach someone else who is standing by themselves. Introduce yourself, they will be relieved that someone has spoken to them and it instantly takes you from standing alone swirling your drink to looking like you are well connected. If you find that it’s time to move on and meet someone else, offer them your business card and (as above) confirm you’ll be in touch and connect with them after the event.
Implementing these tips into your next networking event is sure to make more valuable use of your time and make the process much less daunting than it needs to be!
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