Acing Your Next Networking Event: Five Keys to Successby Courtney Myers Professional Writer and Editor
For business leaders, standing out and achieving brand recognition is an essential goal. Yet, to get there, most have to host or at least attend more than a few networking or promotional events. The purpose of such events is threefold: One, they give you the chance to demonstrate or talk about your latest product offerings. Next, they allow you to meet and mingle with some of the key stakeholders in your industry. They also enable you to scope out the competition and learn from some of your peers who are currently succeeding in the same space that you’re in.
A well-planned networking event is one in which everyone benefits and leaves feeling like the time away from daily work was a good investment. Yet, too often, these types of programs are poorly thrown together, unorganized, and haphazardly scheduled, leaving attendees scratching their heads and wondering where the true value in that time commitment was. To avoid this, here are five ways you can ace your next networking event, regardless of industry or audience type.
1. Begin with a goal. Unless you know precisely what you want to get out of the event, you’ll likely spend a majority of your time floundering around, moving warily from booth to booth. That’s why it’s important to establish a set list of goals before you even leave. Write down 3-5 initiatives that you’d like to accomplish during your time. These might be: 1) Meet four new potential business partners; 2) Hand out 50 swag bags full of branded products and 3) Hand out 25 business cards to prospects who seem interested. That way, when the event is over and you’re analyzing how you performed, you’ll be able to measure your success against your goals to see if you did what you set out to do.
2. Don’t forget your gear. The last thing you want to do is show up at a trade show and realize you left an important piece of signage or another accessory at home. Take a final inventory before leaving to make sure that nothing is left behind. If you plan to incorporate technical elements into your display, such as a running PowerPoint presentation, make sure you have plenty of power strips and backup chargers to ensure you never run out of juice. If you’re putting together swag bags, make sure everything is in there. Some items, like pens and paper or custom lanyards, are small and can get lost amid the clutter while packing. It’s worth taking the time to go through a checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
3. Listen more than you speak. It can be easy to get nervous when you’re at a networking event and immediately start spilling your introduction, then your product pitch, as soon as you meet someone new. It’s wisest, however, to let the other person speak first and listen intently as they do so. You’ll show you’re interested and the conversation will likely go further than if you’d started off delivering a ton of information all at once. Studies show that when you’re talking about yourself, you’re only being halfway listened to. Ensure the conversation reaches its potential by allowing plenty of time for back-and-forth dialogue.
4. Take notes. Trade shows and other networking events are busy, chaotic and loud. As soon as you finish an important conversation, quietly excuse yourself to a corner of the room where you can think, and write down any important notes that you want to make sure and remember when you get back to the office. This might be the personal interests of a potential partner (such as “Greg from Company X likes golf”) or it might be a key piece of data about a peer product (Company Z’s machine runs five times faster than ours). Either way, you may forget these critical points during the event and they’re worth remembering, so bring plenty of paper and writing utensils to write them down.
5. Follow-up afterward. Don’t just look at the event as a one-time chance to meet someone. Rather, make every effort to retain the connections you made and see the relationship through. If you received the business card of someone you’d like to speak with further, follow up with that person a few days after the event ends. If you’re sending an email, be sure to personalize all such correspondence, as no one likes to receive a vague, generic follow-up letter. Doing so helps reveal that you are sincere in your interest and aren’t just looking to maximize your leads. One pro tip: One of the easiest and most professional ways to continue a connection with someone is to send them a quick LinkedIn invite. That can open the door to a further conversation and even prompt you to meet for a follow-up event, like an interview.
Overall, your time at a trade show or other networking event doesn’t have to be a few days spent running around crazily, trying to tie up a ton of loose ends and make some half-hearted connections in the process. By being intentional with your time before, during and after the event, you’ll ensure that you walk away from it feeling accomplished, prepared, and ready to see what the next steps bring.
Created on Apr 30th 2018 10:09. Viewed 919 times.