Too many people think attending a networking event simply entails having a glass of wine and leaving as many business cards behind as possible. Worse, many walk around the event aimlessly, hoping someone will talk to them. In fact, this is the worst way to conduct yourself. You need to have a game plan when networking just as you would with anything else.
Consider these three simple strategies for your next networking event:
- Identify five people you want to meet. It is critical to know who is going to be at the event. Try to get a list of attendees from the event’s coordinator. If you can’t access this list, prepare how you can describe yourself when speaking to people. In either case, understand that it is impossible to connect with everyone in attendance so pick your targets in advance. You can even contact them before to let them know you look forward to seeing them at the event.
- Pre-select the subjects you’d like to discuss. Do research on your selected group as it is essential to have an idea of the topic you would like to discuss. The subject doesn’t always have to be business related, just something that the person will remember you by. A five to 10 minute conversion should suffice for each person you plan to have a dialogue with. Everyone is there to network, so each person’s time is valuable.
- Don’t forget to follow-up. Send a short note offering that it was great to meet them and suggest an interest in continuing the conversation over coffee next month. Also, connect with them on LinkedIn or social networks you deem appropriate.
From my experience, networking groups seem to take a vacation during summer months, gearing back up in the early fall. With September right around the corner, remember these tips for your next networking opportunity.
What are some of your most effective networking tips?