7 Ways to Maximize Your Next Networking Event
Networking in today’s digital age is no longer just about handing out business cards. If you want to effectively network and build connections, you need to prepare, present value, and follow up. The good news is that social media and the internet make it much easier to prepare and follow up! Here are 7 ways to maximize your next networking event.
Prepare: Do You Homework
Know the industry, organization, or group that is holding the networking event. Read a trade publication, research press releases, and become aware of hot button issues within the audience.
Research key individuals that might attend, use social media as a tool to learn about interests, think about mutual ground topics, and be prepared to talk to them. Make sure at the very least to read the paper in the morning so you are aware of current events of the day.
Prepare Your Introduction
Be creative. Use an elevator speech to capture your listener’s interest. Elevator speech is a clear statement of who you are, what you do, and the unique value that your product or service brings to the market place. Practice your elevator speech. Be prepared to modify your basic speech to the listener’s business type and needs. Share the value that makes you stand out from the competition. Focus on the value that you bring to others.
Show up early and learn about the attendees from the organizational staff beforehand or from the attendee list. Ask one of the coordinators of the event or someone you know to introduce you to certain people.
The goal and purpose of networking is to meet new people and to create business connections. Make sure that you make memorable connections with as many as you can. Know when to move on, don’t get stuck in one place with one group. Set a goal of how many people you want to meet and target individuals by business title or people you already researched and are important for you.
Listen & Take an Interest in Others
Take a genuine interest in others by asking good questions and being an even better listener. Listening to others, allows you to find common interests and make memorable connections. When talking, always try to "talk in terms of the other person interests".
Meet the VIPs and Speakers:
a. Tell them what you know about them.
b. Compliment them (sincerely)
c. Briefly explain what you do—tie into what you heard.
d. Ask for an appointment.
e. Thank those involved for their efforts in coordinating the event.
Follow – up and Stay in Touch
Immediate follow up is the key to success of keeping momentum and stay on the top of others’ minds. Send a quick email within 12- 24 hours "it was pleasure to meet you, let’s stay in touch". You can search for the new people you met on the business social media, LinkedIn, or Facebook and send them contact invitation. In your email or social media message cite something that was discussed, a shared interest, or business connection, to remind the other of the conversation. Share on what you might be able to do for the person who you just met. Give him/her a reason to get back with you.
Stay in touch, show respect and interest in their professional lives. If you hear positive news for them or their organization, give the person a compliment. Educate others when periodically send interesting articles, notifications, or info about relevant upcoming event.