Before guiding you into how to handle Your First Networking Event, allow me to tell you how my first event was.
In a midsize company, I was the Marketing Manager plus handling some of the business development, and a big part of my job was to attend networking events. “Yes, okay I’m a people person!” These were the first words I said to myself when I came across an organized networking event on Facebook. And of course I did not attend the event alone; a few sales representatives were able to join me. So we arrived, and it was overwhelming!
To start with, being a people person is not enough. The minute you walk in, you see and feel Experience, by that I mean decades and years of professional experience from multiple industries in a single room. The only thing you know about that person from a distance is their name, which in a way does not mean anything. To end this, the most important part is to KNOW YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE, that alone will give you confidence as you speak! You don’t want to freeze and mumble while talking about what makes you a professional.
The concept of business networking is not new at all in fact it existed long before online networking started. But here’s what you need to know before attending Your First Networking Event:
- Dress up & show up!
For such an event you have to dress and play the part. You are walking in to a room of strangers, and the main point is to be presentable, comfortable (you’ll be standing for at least an hour or so), and approachable.
- Set your Goal
Attend the networking event with a purpose. Are you interested in meeting a certain person? Learning about a new industry? Would you like to meet a specific number of people? Or perhaps just meeting someone from another field? Some people attend networking events because they are looking for a new job. Set your mind to two or three goals, achieve that and you know you’re attendance was meaningful.
- Business Cards
Carry plenty of business cards, you will need them.
However, a big NO in a business networking event is just Distributing & Collecting Business cards. The purpose is to meet face-to-face and start a buildup of new relations that would potentially turn into leads and then into closed businesses. Business cards are meant to be used after the event for following up.
Tip: read the name on the card and get the right pronunciation.
- Hello my name is…
This is the part where you get to be charming! Stand tall, be confident, speak loud (don’t scream), speak clearly, and remember this is not a socializing event! When introducing yourself, be fun, but not too funny, you are a professional meeting other professionals. Be concise and clear about what you do.
- “One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever”- Linda Lambert
Carry a meaningful conversation but don’t hold on to it. Listen to what the other person has to say, you are there to get to know others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that would lead to detailed answers not just yes or no.
So now that you have the basics, you are ready to attend your first true business networking event! Be cool, confident and make the best of it.
Published by Marwa Patz