No doubt many of us will have experienced the pains of networking events. You walk into a room full of strangers, armed with a stack of business cards, ready to rub elbows with the best in the business. But let’s face it- networking events can sometimes be stressful, awkward, and require a certain amount of effort to see the benefits.
So how do you navigate pressurised networking events in the most effective way possible? Our team share their own personal tips on the dos and don’ts of the networking world.
Use your business cards wisely
It can be tempting to throw your business cards at anyone that comes near you, but be strategic. There’s nothing more off putting than having strangers push their business cards on you before you’ve even had a chance to say hello.
Focus upon holding authentic, informal conversations with people- networking is all about creating long standing, lasting relationships that are beneficial to both parties. Swap business cards once you’ve established a connection with someone, and be sure to follow up via email or LinkedIn.
Curb the hard sell
We absolutely implore you not be that person that blows their own trumpet for the entire event. It’s important to establish yourself as a professional, approachable attendee- if you’re too pushy you’ll impede your potential progress when scoring new contacts.
If you’re asked to say a few words about your business, give the ‘elevator technique’ a spin. It’s a quick, concise and accurate summary of your company and USP. Engage your listeners and make it memorable!
Chat to as many people as possible
This is an obvious point to make, but it can be daunting to approach a group of strangers on your own, especially if networking events aren’t really your bag. But practice makes perfect, so be sure to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by attending regular events and engaging in conversation. Ask others what they do, share knowledge and news about your industry, and you’ll be a social butterfly before you know it.
Don’t abuse the free bar
The best networking events are the ones that are fun and relaxed. And while the booze can help ease social awkwardness, don’t go wild and end up in a drunken mess.
At the end of the day, you’re there to represent your company and demonstrate your professional capabilities, which will be somewhat difficult to prove if you’ve got your head stuck down the toilet. Be wise, enjoy a drink, but remember your limits!
Listen and learn
Are there certain attendees that are incredibly valuable to you and your industry? Seek them out and strike up a conversation. If you can manage to get your hands on a list of attendees beforehand, suss out who’s who, and which people and businesses will be of the most benefit to you.
If you’re wanting to climb the ladder or take on more responsibility, listen to industry experts and take their advice. You’ll be able to learn from their own experiences, and turn this to your advantage in your own career.
If you take maximise your networking time, you’ll not only be able to share ideas directly with other professionals in your industry, but you’ll also develop your personal brand, raise your company profile, and build up those all-important contacts. Networking events can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore, especially if you’re taking them on outside of your working hours, but if you’re willing to step up and put the effort in, the rewards are there for the taking.
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