Networking events are a great way to increase your business connections. I try to leave each networking event with at least 5-10 new connections that I didn’t have before I came.
Attending an event with 60-300 business people can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to navigate a networking event so you walk away with new connections to help you grow your resources.
Work the room: Spend 3-5 minutes per conversation during the networking hour. Try not to get cornered by someone unless you feel the conversation is one that can’t be continued later on over coffee or lunch. Good exit lines are ‘will you excuse me, I need to get a napkin; my boss just arrived; I need to hang up my coat or drop off my purse.’ Move about and make an effort to say hello to people you know and encourage them to introduce you to the people they are talking to you that you may not know.
Choose your seat wisely. Get a seat that faces the same direction as the guest speaker. Nothing is more annoying than having to turn your chair to hear the speaker, then spinning to eat your meal.
Bring business cards. I’ll say it again. Bring business cards. Did I mention you should bring business cards to networking events? Don’t leave home without them!
Make mental notes: You will meet lots of people at networking events and it may be hard to keep them all straight. Jot some notes about each person on the back of their business card to jog your memory. (For example: BBB networking event at JD Legends, bubbly blonde with glasses, event planner, just went on a pontoon boat ride.)
Wear a conversation piece of clothing, jewelry, or necktie that makes you memorable. It can be a bold color, festive pattern, trendy shoes or a chunky necklace, but this piece that will serve as an icebreaker or memory jogger. I used to have a peach colored suit that I would wear to more formal networking events that was a great icebreaker. People remembered my last name is pronounced like the fruit because of that suit. For more casual events, I wear a hat. (That way, people remember me as the girl with the hat, or they can point me out across the room). A nice Stella Dot or Park Lane necklace, cool shoes, a ring or fun hair style are also great conversation starters.
Follow up within 24 hours. Send a simple email saying that you enjoyed meeting them, offer your assistance in the future and ask if they’d like to grab coffee sometime. At that time also add them to your contacts list, do a connection request on LinkedIn and (depending on your connection) do a friend request on Facebook. You can follow their business pages on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter as well.
Looking for some great networking events to test out your skills? Check out the local BBB, Chamber of Commerce or business guilds in your industry.
Happy networking! Kpl 🙂