1. Know your end game
As professionals, we attend networking events for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s to connect with others in your field, to put your business card in the hands of specific professionals, maybe it’s for the social aspect. The key to getting the most out of a networking event, is knowing what you want to get out of it.
Working out exactly what you hope to walk away from the event with will get you one step closer to nailing networking.
2. Do some prep work
Once you know what you want to achieve by networking, it’s time to do some research. There are so many great networking events on offer. Some events operate in a more formal and structured manner while others offer a more laid-back approach. Knowing what’s on the agenda can help you decide which networking events to invest your time in.
If you’re a nervous nelly, the structured events may be what you need. The structure can help you find your groove as you talk to specific people or give your 1-minute intro during an allotted time. If you’re an experienced networker or a bit of a social butterfly, you may prefer the more relaxed, after 5 with a vino in hand type event.
3. Nail your elevator pitch
Once you’re at the event, you want to feel confident. Particularly when you get asked, “So, what do you do?” Having a snappy one-liner that sums you up professionally will help you feel confident as you work the room. A simple way to practice is to think about who you help and how you do it.
For example, “I’m Sam from Sam’s reality. I help everyday people find their dream homes.
Giving a brief overview of what you do will help the people you’re talking to think about how they can do business with you or refer you to someone who will.
4. Read the room
If you’re nervous, it can be easy to hide away in a quiet corner of a networking event. Or once you’ve connected with someone, spend most of your time speaking with them. At this point, it can be useful to remember why you attended in the first place. It’s usually to meet a variety of people and expand your network right? So, remember to read the room and speak to a number of different people.
Feeling nervous? Look for others standing alone and approach them for a conversation. You might also be able to approach the event organisers and let them know you were hoping to connect with a certain industry. They will often be able to offer an introduction to break the ice.
If you do find yourself with a few minutes alone, use that time to jot down some details of the conversations you’ve had with people so far, once you’ve spoken with a few people it can be hard to remember specifics.
5. Have a follow-up plan
Networking doesn’t end when you leave the event, far from it! This is the start of a professional relationship with a potential client, collaborator or your new business bestie! The follow-up is crucial in making the most of networking.
Follow-up can be a phone call, an email, a connection on linked in or a catch up for coffee. However you follow up, make sure you include:
- Where you met
- What you do (and how you can help them/their clients)
- Something personal (you may have bonded over your love for cats or a good glass of merlot!)
- An invitation (whether to connect online or in person)
Networking is critical to business, no matter what industry you’re in. Being prepared and practising effective networking skills will benefit your confidence and your career.
Looking for a relaxed and welcoming networking event?
Check out Hunter Business Women’s Network event page for upcoming networking events.