The word ‘networking’ creates visions of standing around with cups of coffee making awkward conversation with strangers. And whilst the overall aim is to gain more business for all, with increased popularity, networking events have become more about shared interests, fun activities and making friendships over business connections.
Most newbies find their first networking event nervous-wracking, so to help, we’ve listed some advice for those wanting to get the most out of an event. Most importantly though, enjoy yourself!
- Relevance – Networking events are becoming more and more popular each year. This is great news however it does make it more difficult to find which one is worth your time and commitment. Is there a reason you are looking to attend a networking event? Is your company requiring you to attend and make connections? Are you just wanting to enhance your knowledge within your industry? These are the type of questions you need to answer in order to find the right event for you. Industrial events that talk about trends whether that be marketing, flooring or even interior design are always good choices.
- Do your homework –This is important with anything in business, doing your homework will always make you more prepared for what is to come. Networking events tend to have a purpose and you will need to go to the one that suits your needs. Put research into a network event that you are planning on attending to see if there is going to be any special talks or displays. You can also look into who is hosting the event and check them out on social media to see if anyone is tweeting about event, as this will give a bit of background to who you might connect with. Also ask around and see if anyone you know in your industry is also attending the event.
- Dress for success – Corporate events will always be quite formal so you might want to consider this when thinking about what to wear. One piece of advice would be to dress as if you were attending a job interview, so it would be something smart but also memorable. Another thing that you can do is wear colours that represented your company, for example the Piccolo colours are red, black and white.
- Be equipped – Business cards are vital for networking events as this is the key way to connect with other attendees. Another idea could be to take maybe a flyer/small brochure just In case you connect with someone that would like to see more of what your company does. Note pad and pen are always important to remember as it allows you to jot down any necessary notes that could be useful.
- Follow up within 72 hours – If you are able to make a connection that you think could be a great opportunity for your company then you must follow up with that contact within 72 hours as it will still be fresh in the persons mind and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity by waiting too long. This can be easily done by either sending a friendly email introducing yourself or try and find them on LinkedIn and ask them to connect. Always act fast with potential customers as you don’t want your competitor connecting with them first.
Be confident, be bold and strive at all the networking events that you attend.