Networking events are a great opportunity to drive you to the next phase of your career, find potential business partners or connect with a prospect client or employer. However, networking events are also an opportunity for awkwardness to ensue. We’re talking awkward silences, awkward chats about the weather and awkward handshakes.
But how are you going to eliminate these moments from happening and gain worthwhile connections that open new opportunities and leverage your contacts?
Realise your goals before opening those doors (and grabbing that drink!). You’ve heard it before, but time is money. Recognising why you’re attending the event in the first place will provide you with the three C’s: confidence, clarity and cause – qualities required for any networking event. These makes goals such as talking with prospective clients or connecting with professionals from various industries a lot easier and simpler.
Bright Tip: Have a big hitter that you want to approach? Make sure you do a bit of background research about them and the company they manage or own. This will help you out in creating effective conversations starters and eliminate unnecessary small talk.
Human vs. corporate. Know the occasion of what you’re attending. From the language to the dress code, you need to dress and communicate according to the environment and feel of the event. Not only does this put you in the same wavelength as the rest of the attendees, it also allows you to connect with potential partners and colleagues on a professional and personal level.
Bright Tip: First impressions (in a competitive market) are everything. But this doesn’t mean you should mingle mechanically. Don’t be afraid to add your personality and charm in the mix!
Don’t forget your business card and contact details. Although it may be a tad obvious, business cards are something people often forget, making it difficult to convert a potential network to a legitimate connection. Let the other party know you’re interested in getting in touch and potentially doing business together by providing them your business card either before or after your conversation.
Bright Tip: Have a handful of your business cards prepared, or, alternatively you can use apps such as Haystack which lets you create a digital business card using your android or iPhone!
Keep your friends close, and your competition closer. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the top of your industry or are just starting fresh, you need to be aware and know the people around you. Yes, competition is fierce, but if you’re a self-trepreneur and want to see if there’s an opportunity for you to collaborate, share ideas or make contacts with other like-minded people, then networking with the competition can be a very fruitful opportunity.
Overall, applying these simple and effective strategies at your next networking event will generate new and valid connections that can only benefit your career goals. Have any more? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.