Networking events are quite unique. To make the most of your time, it is good to stick to a few simple rules:
There are many factors affecting the way people see us. Let’s start from the clothes – it’s best if they’re neat and clean. Imagine you are seeing a client. You wouldn’t wear your sneakers, would you? Don’t. There is better time and place to put them on than a networking event. Another thing: timing. Punctuality is a virtue. Stick to it.
Every networking event is a chance to engage in a conversation on some personal topics (don’t get too personal though, apply common sense) and business-related ones. Don’t try to pitch people everything. Keep it short and simple. You don’t want to bore your audience to death. Tell them shortly what you do and what you’re looking for. This will help you to save everybody’s time and filter people with whom you can talk later.
Don’t be a taker. Before going to the event, think about what you can offer and do for others. Don’t look for potential partners or buyers right from the entrance. Listen to people and try to understand their needs instead. It pays off. In the long run.
Don’t think you can remember everything from the meeting. Memories do have a tendency to fade away over time. Try to take some notes on what people tell you. Who knows? Maybe right before going to bed that night you will come up with some brilliant idea and a good reason to follow up? Right after the event you will probably remember the taste of dessert and a funny custom bow tie one of the attendees was wearing. Make sure you have a record of all other important stuff.
You came to help others. But you also came to benefit yourself. Don’t waste your time. Have a minute to spare? Don’t ponder the ingredients on the tuna salad they served. Go talk to someone instead! Smile gently, approach a person you didn’t have a chance to talk to before and say „hello” to them. The more connections you establish, the better. See it as an investment.
Important advice: take your business cards with you. It will be easier for others to remember you. When you are handed a card by someone, it is good to make a short note on what the conversation was all about.
Smile. Keep a positive attitude and don’t loose faith! Helping others, you’re helping yourself too!