5 Networking Tips for Events
Networking is an essential part of life and business in today’s world.
It’s no wonder that there continues to be a rise in the number of networking events designed specifically for connecting people with peers and thought leaders. Unfortunately, many attend these events and miss out on opportunities right in front of them to strengthen and extend their respective networks. Here are 5 simple tips that may help you become a better networker at events:
- Go to the event prepared. Everyone’s time is valuable (including yours!) so be sure to create a quick checklist of things you might need for your next networking event (e.g., business cards, small talk ideas, review of attendees list when available, etc.). When possible, it’s a good idea to see if you could identify a couple of people you’d really like to connect with at the event (in addition to people you’ll spontaneously meet).
- Keep it human and use the name of the person you’re speaking with during the conversation. I’m horrible with names. Are you? After years of being frustrated at not remembering names, I learned that using a persons name during an initial conversation really helps with memory. This means that you have to pay attention when they introduce themselves to you, especially if their name badge is turned around. Verbalizing a person’s name in conversation will greatly increase your ability to connect a name with a face. More importantly, I’ve found that using a person’s name quickly humanizes the conversation instead of it becoming a transactional engagement. Never forget that networking is more about building relationships than it is about moving your career forward. No one likes to be “leveraged” for career advancement so keep the engagement human (please).
- Ask for their contact information (when appropriate). If you feel that a conversation is going well, ask for you contact the person’s contact information. If they don’t have a card with them, take a few seconds and type in their name and email information into your phone. Also, make a little note as to what you talked about with them and why you think it would be good to follow up with them.
- Follow up within 24 hours and be clear about why you’re contacting them. Don’t wait too long to follow up. I usually follow up the night of the event or latest by the next morning. Quick follow up communicates to people that you value them and their time. During follow up, make sure to keep it brief and concise (3-4 sentences max) and be clear about why you’re contacting them. Take advantage of the email subject and insert a unique phrase or word that may have been used during the conversation. This will help spark their memory of the conversation and you! If time permits, send a more memorable follow up like a handwritten note or even a video message. Creating something worth talking about goes a long way.
- Set a reminder for a second follow up or introduction to someone else. I usually set a reminder in my calendar to do a second follow up with individuals that I’d like to connect with and further support through my network. During the second follow up, I usually try to connect my new friend or contact with another great person in my network that may add value to their endeavors. For me, it’s not just about building my network, but also about building the network of my friends. I’ve found over the years that many new friendships I build often professionally benefit others that I already know. It’s deeply satisfying to connect good people to one another. In fact, I go into networking events not only for myself, but also for my network.
What are some things that you think about or do before, during, and after networking events?