It’s true: face-to-face networking events can be awkward, phony and, well, boring. Maybe 3% of the people who are there really love the notion of exchanging introductions over and over again, trading business cards with total strangers, and having a good time. The other 97% wish they could be home with the family, watching the latest basketball game, or taking off their shoes to relieve the aching feet.
People go to networking events for all kinds of reasons. Leads for their businesses, to learn more about that common area of expertise such as an industry or profession, or as part of a job search. Whether you are employed or unemployed, you will need to go to face-to-face networking events regularly to build your network for the future.
When you do go, you will get as much out of it as you put into it. And you CAN meet business or personal objectives, too.
Have a goal prior to going. Do you have a target list of companies you would like to work for and you want to find people who either work there or know someone who does? Are you an entrepreneur who wants to find other entrepreneurs you can learn from or share experiences with? Are you a sales executive looking for leads?
These are my Top 10 Face-to-Face Networking Tips to get you started on a networking journey that will last you a lifetime.
(HINT: Give as well as get! Don’t make it one-off or one-way, then it’s called USING instead of NETWORKING.)
Bring: Business cards
Professional or personal – just have plenty.
Bring: Pen and small pad
Take notes about people you meet.
Maximize the time; better quality conversations.
Nametag: Right side and high up
Tie a knot in the back of the lanyard so it sits higher; turn around your blank tag.
Have at least one hand free
Check coats and briefcases; have a free hand to shake and write notes.
Separate from colleagues
…Unless they are introducing you to someone or vice versa. Then split up after introductions are made.
Have a network goal, set a # goal
Rehearse answer to “What brings you here?” and target meeting 5-10 brand new people who can help you.
Shake, smile, make eye contact
Keep all 3 going at the same time.
Turn off your phone, no texting
Unless you’re the President of the United States!
Close: Ask for a follow up
“May I follow up with you after this event?”