Networking doesn’t start the moment you walk in the event doors, oh no my friend, it can and should begin way before then!
Last week I posted a 2 Min Tip all about doing your research and I wanted to expand a little to help you get more out of the events you attend.
So you’re booked onto an event, but what can you do to get the most out of it?
The first port of call should always be checking if there’s a delegates list available, although since the introduction of GDPR they can be pretty rare these days. Check the host’s website to see if there’s a public list of who else is attending, or if they used something like Eventbrite to manage their event you can sometime see delegates who’ve chosen to be public on there too.
Next step is to pop over to social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, and search any hashtags associate with the event or event host. Then you’ll see all the posts from anyone in the world who’s talking about that event – odds are most of them will be attending the event, so you’ve instantly got yourself a virtual delegates list! The important part now is to start engaging with them – say hello, tell them you’re going to the event too (and use the hashtag so other people can find you too!), and if you find someone of interest arrange to have a chat with them at the event.
Speaking to the host of the event is next up. Networking host’s are always going to be the most connected person in the room, so make sure you put in the time to get to know them and give them the chance to get to know you. They want you to benefit from attending their event, so ask for facilitated introductions to specific people, or if they know of anyone working is a certain industry for example. They’re there to help, but they’re also busy people, they can’t introduce you to everyone: be specific and don’t go in too hard with the sell or they’ll be reluctant to make any introductions at all.
If there’s a speaker at the event/seminar/conference, reach out to them before the event! They’re only human, and they’ll be pleased you’re looking forward to hearing them speak. Starting a conversation with the speaker before the event makes it much easier to approach them during. Similarly, have a think about potential questions you could ask at the end of their talk; going into an event with the mindset of asking a question means you’re far more likely to put yourself out there when the opportunity arises. Asking a question gives you the chance to introduce yourself to the entire room (which then makes you much more approachable to other delegates during post-seminar networking), it also allows you to address the speaker(s) and start a conversation with them – again, making it far more likely you’ll be able to continue that conversation after the session.
Prearranging meetings before, during, and after networking events is a great way to get the most out of them, especially if you’ve made a large time/financial investment to be there. Arranging to have a chat with other delegates during an event is one thing, but there’s also great opportunity to nurture existing relationships too…
If you’re booked on to attend an event, why not invite people within your network so they can attend to? You don’t need to buy their ticket, just share the information with them in case they’ve not seen it, especially if you think it will add value to them. This is the perfect opportunity to arrange a catch up either before of after, e.g. I’m going to this event I think you’d like, if you can make it let me know and we can get a coffee before hand. You could even arrange a pre-event catch up and a post-event catch up! Plus all those during event chats with people you’ve already connected with online. Remember, this is all about making sure you’re getting the most out of networking events and the time/cost investment of attending.
Hopefully these simple steps will help you get more for the next event in your diary!
If you’d like to learn more about strategic networking you can download our FREE whitepaper HERE! Or get in touch to chat about potential training, workshops, or bespoke strategy development – I’d love to help!