The Networker #18: The Networking Event Sandwich
A staple in the diet of so many…
From school days spent tentatively waiting to find out which filling you’ve got in your lunchbox…
To your on-the-go supermarket meal deal…
To the ones at networking events…
Today, I’m going to link two classics.
Sandwiches. And networking.
And a way for you to think about networking being more than just the event.
Let me introduce you to the networking event sandwich concept.
Let’s dive in.
Too often networking is viewed as just attending an event.
Like a sandwich, you only truly pay attention to what’s in it.
Less what’s holding it all together.
But a sandwich doesn’t work unless you have the bread on the outside.
And this is the same with networking.
Without doing the work before and after the event, you’re leaving so much on the table.
First, we have the base.
Just like a sandwich needs a good foundation, your preparation before an event is essential.
You don’t want to turn up to an event unprepared and not knowing what’s to come and who is there. Right?
Do your research. Remind yourself of your intentions and reasons for attending (or networking generally). And get ready to make some new connections and build on existing ones.
Simple tasks to create a good foundation for attending an event:
- Research the guest list – who can you connect with? Who can you reconnect with? Who can you connect together?
- Connect with other attendees on LinkedIn – personalise a message, say hi and introduce yourself before stepping into the room. You have a face to look out for at the event now too!
- Plan your day before and/or after the event to maximise your networking. Can you meet someone in the area? A client, prospect, or connection? Turn it from a networking event, into a day spent networking.
Foundation-builders such as these take no time at all.
But means you’re arriving well prepared with conversations already started that you can continue during the event.
Talking of which…
Now, it’s time for the sandwich filling.
The main attraction.
The event itself.
This is where you get to mingle, network, and learn from others.
And just like how you can mix it up with your sandwich filling, you can do so with your networking, by choosing different events and groups to be a part of.
Having the same filling every time would be a little boring.
Unless you’re a true creature of habit.
Like Trevor, who I used to work with in one of my first office jobs. Who had a peanut butter sandwich on white bread. At 12pm. Every. Single. Day.
We all have our go to sandwich fillings depending on what we fancy, right? (BLT, tuna and sweetcorn, or chicken salad for me).
And from there, you mix it up because you’ve found the ones that you really like.
The same should apply to your networking.
It’s good to mix up a select number of events and groups you are part of. I spoke about this in edition #3.
It’s what comes before and after attending that’s just as important.
Finally, we have the other slice of bread holding it all together.
After the event, it’s time to do your follow-ups.
Just like how the bread keeps the sandwich from falling apart, your follow-ups are essential for solidifying the connections you made at the event.
Don’t leave it too long. Send that email or LinkedIn message. Or do what you said you would do.
If you’ve got a follow up call or meeting to organise, great.
But it’s courteous to follow up even if it’s only to thank someone for their time and to say you look forward to seeing them again.
Your conversations will soon be a fading memory.
Before long, you, and everyone you spoke to, gets back to their busy lives.
Following up puts you ahead of so many others who ignore this crucial final piece of the sandwich.
The Wrap Up
Attending an event is great.
But it loses so much of its value and potential if you’re not doing the right work before or after it.
Being truthful to yourself, and reflecting on your networking, can you say you’ve made a complete sandwich when attending events recently?
Or are you left with just the filling?
Next time you book onto an event, hopefully you’ll now view it as your filling.
And you’ll plan time before and after accordingly to complete the networking event sandwich.
Leaving the bread out of your sandwiches may be good for your waistline.
But it’s not for your networking.
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