To prepare for networking events is very often the last thing you think about when actually, it should be first on the to-do list. There’s no magic or mystery in effective networking, just simple and effective tools.
However, you certainly don’t need to feel performance stress to make the best impression in anticipation of a networking meeting, but by the same token, neither do you want to hang around awkwardly with a fake smile trying to wing it.
Instead, by meticulously following ‘best practice’, networking events fulfil their purpose to create great business relationships. The smile will then be genuine, but the onus is on you to skill-up.
Essentially our preparation starts with selecting appropriate networking events where the people we ought to be dealing are in attendance. Entrepreneurs and business owners (anyone networking?) don’t want to waste precious hours at the wrong event. After all, time is money.
Preparation for an effective networking event begins long before we walk through the door. We need a clear strategy in place if we have any chance of reaping the good results we’re hoping for.
You know you’re in for a great networking event when sent pre-event information at least 24 hours before the event date. This enables you to easily understand how best to place ourselves. Savvy networking events not only send out an itinerary with their invitations again or notifications but also a list of the invited delegates. This provides a golden opportunity to do some research. That’s why attendees at all Network My Club events receive a pre-event email; the day prior to the event, with full information about attendees, venue, travel and valuable networking tips.
Getting to know which businesses will be at an upcoming event means you can think beyond ourselves and be helpful to others. Passing on useful information that someone else can benefit from promotes affiliates. Becoming known as a ‘connector’ will have people contacting you in the event you might possibly be able to help. Be on top of trends and who’s doing what.
Reach out to attendees beforehand
When done in the right way – not just a generic salesy message – it is not inappropriate to connect with other delegates ahead of the networking event. Having made a note of their preferences, whether it be in a career or sport or anything at all that could be common ground, reach out and connect. It may feel bold, but remember you want to genuinely connect emotionally with people, not just intellectually. That alone will get you remembered.
One of the best ways to connect with others is to let them know you want to hear their story. You need to make sure you pay attention and listen. Most don’t. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn. Butting in or talking over someone is not listening!
Make social media work for you
Messaging is a very overlooked strategy with regard to connecting with others. Delegates who have been invited to the any Network My Club event, know that everyone can see their name, company and job role. No offence is taken should they be contacted by other delegates. Reaching out on social media is great as long as we remain respectful and discreet.
Certain social media platforms are more suitable for business people than others. Ensure you are engaging with the preferred social media platforms of the organisers and always use the specific hashtag. For example, for the Network Albion Business Club events, always use #NetworkAlbion alongside any social post!
Appropriate messaging gives the receiver the dignity of responding at their own convenience. (Their silence will tell us a lot too.) If you did our homework and have a genuine point of interest, then you can send a short message to let them know you’re glad they’ll be at the upcoming event and will look out for them!
Attend having begun relationships in advance. Make sure we have enough business cards – and yes, obviously, but how often have we either run short or forgotten to bring them to an event? A word of caution – business cards are precious. Never give them out with wild abandon. Make sure the other person will value your card. All said and done, the quality of your preparation for networking events will largely dictate its success.