The Networker #56: How To Research The Event Guest List Like A Pro

Read time: 3 minutes & 22 seconds

All networkers have been told at some point; “research the guest list before an event”.

But few share practical ways to do so.

Until now.

But preparing and researching allows you to:

  • Go into events with a clear picture of who is going
  • Map out who you can connect and reconnect with
  • Warm up conversations

Maximising your time and efficiency.

Leaving less to chance and serendipity.

Reducing the risk of you leaving thinking; “that was a waste of time”.

Unfortunately, many networkers think reviewing a guest list is all about the new people they need to connect with.

But there are two groups you’re ignoring.

Here’s how to research the guest list like a pro.

First things first, the guest list is not a hit list.

I’ll be honest, I’m chuffed with myself with that line. Get it on my gravestone.

It’s not a resource for you to single out all the new people you can ‘target’.

You’re not hunting. You’re networking.

Before an event, when you’ve receive the guest list, try this.

Something I’ve coined, ‘The 3 Who’s Framework’ (work in progress – feedback welcome).

3 questions to ask yourself and plan who you want to meet and help.

Starting with:

Who can I reconnect with?

“Wait, what about all the new people I need to go and meet?!”

Relax, that’ll come.

Networking is as much about reconnecting with existing connections, as it is about connecting with new ones.

It helps you:

  • Reconnect with an old connection
  • Reignite a previous conversation
  • Stay front of mind
  • Become the first person people think of

It’s also much easier and less stressful to build on an already established rapport with someone, than it is forming a new one.

File that one that under; ways to network smarter, not harder.

It’s like that second or third date. You’re starting to get in the groove, are more relaxed, and are more you.

So as you review the guest list, make a point to highlight 2-4 people you can reconnect and catch up with.

This could be for a quick hello and catch up to see what they’ve been working on.

Or a chance to deepen the relationship or reignite and go deeper on a previous conversation.

Don’t ignore these people when networking.

People need to be reminded about you, not taught once.

You cannot rely on meeting someone once and thinking they’ll remember you when the time comes.

Spoiler alert: you’re not as memorable as important as you think.

They, or someone they know, won’t need what you do the first (or tenth) time you meet them.

But checking in, reconnecting, continuing the conversation will ensure you are the person they think of when they do.

Once you’ve done that, onto the next question.

Who is new I connect with?

Naturally you want to meet some new people.

But realistically, there’s only so many quality conversations you can have with someone you’ve just met.

And that’s what you want when meeting someone new and making a first impression.

You might think having lots of fleeting conversations with new people is effective.

But the reality is they are left with little reason to remember who you are.

And sorry to say, it’s extremely obvious that’s your game plan.

Focus on quality conversations rather than quantity.

On the guest list, highlight 2-3 new people you’d like to meet, then arm yourself with good questions and a curious mindset.

And enjoy conversations without the stress of needing to fit everyone in.

If you’re in it for the long haul (if not, reconsider why you’re networking), you’ll catch those you miss at the next event.

And if you miss them and really want to meet them, reach out after and see if you can do so separately virtually, over a coffee, or at the next event.

Lastly, something to consider on this is, if you only keep meeting new people at events, how deep are those relationships you are building?

Which is why the focus should first be on reconnecting over these.

But wait, there’s one last ‘Who’ to consider.

Who can I connect together?

Making introductions is life hack.

You make an impact on two peoples lives instead of one.

It also feels rewarding. And is a free way to add value and feel good about yourself.

However, avoid connecting for the sake of trying to make an impression.

Or by doing a one-sided introduction.

Because it can backfire.

Making a one sided introduction will lead to one party feeling used.

The ultimate introduction is one that helps both parties.

If you’re unsure, ask them both in advance.

Something like; “Hi X, I noticed you’re attending and I’d like to introduce you to Y because I feel you could work well together. Would that be ok?”

Getting consent from both is what I call a ‘double opt-in introduction’.

Consider industries that work well together and compliment each other.

Then make a point to facilitate it at the event.

Think of the impact this makes to them, and how that is reflected on you.

Behaviour like this will compound hugely and come back to your in spades (remember you’re helping two people in one interaction).

People remember those that connect them.

Be a connector, and you’ll be a power networker.

The Wrap Up 

How you do this guest list research is down to you.

You could go old school and print it off. Then mark these three groups down in a different colour pen or highlighter.

Or export into an excel sheet and colour code on there.

Block out 30 minutes 1-2 days before the event for this exercise.

After doing so, you should have 5-10 people you are hoping to reconnect with, introduce yourself to, or connect together.

Anymore and you’re biting off more than you can chew.

Unless your event is all day, but I’m using an average 3 hour event as an example.

Then feel free to lean on the organisers to help point those people out or form the intro.

That’s what they are there for.

And if the organiser hasn’t sent you a guest list, ask them.

If they don’t send one out, or want to share it, ask yourself if you should really be attending that event.

Any good event organiser should want their attendees to prepare and maximise their time.

The 3 Who’s Framework is there to help you do so:

  1. Who can I reconnect with?
  2. Who is new I connect with?
  3. Who can I connect together?

Happy networking.

P.S. this is one of five pre-event tasks I will be covering in the ‘Pre-Event’ lesson in The Networkers Playbook.

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