Master Your Next Networking Event

In the previous blog we spoke about why you need to network, and some of the basics of networking for business. This was to provide a simple framework to build upon, so that in this blog we could get into the nitty gritty aspects of networking.

Here are some tips on how to master your next networking event.

Preparing before the event

A lot of the time, networking events seem like that first party you went to when you were 12. There are going to be a bunch of people that you don’t know there and you want to make a good impression. Much like the moments before the party, you will find yourself inside your room looking at yourself in the mirror with a myriad of conflicting feelings.

Half of you is excited and can’t wait for the event, and the other half is scared about getting rejected and having it all go terribly wrong.

The first thing that we suggest to overcome this fear is to “set up” some interactions before you go to the event. This will make it easier once you actually arrive because you will feel like the ice has already been broken. Many of these networking events reveal the group list prior to the event, so you can send a message to some of the people you want to talk to beforehand.

Just a simple “Hey, I see that you are going to X event tonight and that you work in Y industry, I was wondering if you wanted to have a chat tonight?” will make the whole thing a lot easier. Once you walk in, you can approach these people with ease.

If you are not a natural extrovert, it can feel daunting being thrown into the social deep end. For this reason, you need to prepare yourself mentally for the event and getting into a social mood. Do whatever it takes to help you loosen up. Listen to some music, dance around etc., but we don’t recommend drinking before the event.

At the Event

Although networking events are about business underneath it all, the way that communication is facilitated is through social interactions. This means that you need to be good at being social and not just at pushing your message.

Now, your message is very important and is not something that should be forgotten, quite the contrary. But you do not want to be the person that is essentially a walking telemarketer for your business and hassling people with sales pitches.

So you need to be able to be someone who has a message, but is friendly. This means employing the basics of general socialising. Here is a list of tips that we recommend:

  • Smile when you meet someone.
  • Use positive body language. Stand up straight, shoulders back and look at people in the eye when you speak to them. If you can just do these three things, you will make an amazingly better impression.
  • Ask a couple of small talk questions to start off with. “How is your night/afternoon going” etc.
  • Don’t spend more than 10 minutes with any one person. It can feel tempting to want to stay with a certain person once you have a connection, but your aim should be to try and have as many quality connections with as many people as possible.
  • Learn an introduction that you can recite in under 30 seconds. Something that will inform the people you are talking to who you are and what you do. We highly recommend that you record yourself doing this and listen back to it. Listen critically and see how you are coming off.
  • Talk to the people that are standing alone first. These people are usually in the same position as you and don’t know anyone. By speaking to them you are almost guaranteed a positive reception. This can help boost your confidence and also make it easier later in the event after they have begun mingling with other people.
  • Check people’s body language. If they are standing in more of a V-formation, it is an indication that they are receptive to a new person joining their conversation, if they are directly facing each other, it usually means that they are engrossed in their conversation.
  • Emphasize what you can offer them, not what they can offer you. People want to feel like they are going to be benefitting by working with you. If all you do is ask them how they can be helping you, you will turn them away pretty fast. You get by giving, and networking is no different.

After the Event

Now that you have connected with a lot of people, it is time to start nourishing those relationships.

The first thing you should do is add the people that you met on LinkedIn. Send them a message letting them know that it was good to meet them and that you enjoyed speaking to them. Try to include a little piece of the conversation that you had so that they will remember you. It will also make the message feel more personal.

If you made a very promising connection with someone that could be turned into a collaborative endeavour, call them the next day and set up a meeting to discuss it further.

And most importantly, keep going to events!

Check out out blog on Why You Need to Network

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