Maximise Your Time at Business Networking Events with these 5 Tips
Business networking events can be a great way to build contacts, find clients and recruit talent, if you are strategic with your approach. Here are five tips to help you maximise your time at any business networking event.
1. Meet the Speaker.
Quite often the featured speaker is one of the best-connected people in the room at a networking event. It doesn’t take long, but try to get a quick 90 seconds of face time with him or her to introduce yourself (make sure you have your elevator pitch), thank him/her for insights on [insert specific valuable takeaway], and ask to connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch, even if the speaker has already provided his or her contact info.
2. Know your wing man and use him/her wisely.
Here is another great use for the buddy system. Make sure you have a friend or colleague there with you to work the room. This person, if used wisely, can double your chances of getting the introductions you need and also help you bow out of stale conversations gracefully. Going solo? Arrive early and introduce yourself to someone before the official program begins. Learn who they are and why they are attending – with any luck you’ll be able to use this information for the following 2 tips.
3. Make a mutual connection.
Networking is all about building strong connections; and what better way to double the strength of your network than to introduce people to your existing connections? Achieving this goal requires active listening when you meet someone new. Make efforts to remember names, find someone’s purpose (for attending, or being in business as examples), and think about who else might benefit from meeting this new connection.
For more help on making your introductions interesting, read this article.
Note that you can also use your wingman for this purpose if you get stuck somewhere in the room in conversation and need to move on gracefully.
4. Connect with your mark.
For the advanced networking pros – is there a published attendee list? If so, a bit of advanced prep could be highly valuable if you are able to identify an attendee who is already on your list of target clients, employers, or employees. If you cannot find this person in advance and ask to connect at the event, spend five minutes doing a lap of the room to see if you can spot him or her. Again, refer to tip #2 above – let your wingman know to be on the lookout for “VIP x”.
Following this tip can also help you stay focused at a networking event and avoid getting caught up in extraneous small talk. Once you’ve met your target connection, make sure you can not only communicate your elevator pitch, but also engage in real conversation. Truly charismatic people are able to connect at an informative and emotional level with others.
5. Be quick.
Just because an event lasts 3 hours doesn’t mean you have to spend the full three hours networking. Following the above tips quickly should enable you to gain value from any networking event within the first hour. Invest the rest of your time elsewhere, like in your follow up communications, thank you emails and or Linked In invitations.
Looking for your next business networking opportunity? Visit our events page for a list of upcoming events near you.