Another day, another networking event. We’ve all been invited to those evenings out, that usually include a sales pitch or a social cause. Yet, we understand the value of being in a room full of influencers and decision makers, so we go. But, are we making the most out of those face-to-face moments?
In this week’s blog, we’ve outlined the following tips for preparing for a networking event to maximize the number and quality of connections:
- Identify Goals For The Event
- Research Attendees
- Reach Out In Advance
- Create A Contact Strategy
- Practice The Elevator Speech
Identify Goals For The Event
Before heading out to any networking event, it’s best to identify a clear objective so all efforts are maximized. Anyone attending the event should take time to think about why they’re going, who they want to meet and the overall goal.
Pull a target list together of who to meet or, at the very least, the types of people with whom to connect. Is it a partner for an upcoming fundraising event, potential client, or local media? Whatever the objective of the list may be, building it first is the best way to go.
Networking works best when one takes the time to research the people they want to connect with first. Finding the invite list and doing some homework up front provides a great launching pad to start a productive and memorable conversation. Having background information shows that person there’s an interest in them and that the one trying to connect with them has some knowledge about their business or background.
Researching prospects has never been easier. With social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s easy to see if there’s a mutual connection. Perhaps it’s a college or high-school friend, or maybe a similar interest in a sports team. Knowing just a few tidbits about their personal life or business may be just what’s needed for that connection.
Reach Out In Advance
While researching attendees, send a personal note through email or a card to show there’s an interest in catching up at the event. If there’s a Facebook Page or Group for the event, consider posting an introduction on the page. It’s a place other attendees will be checking out, and seeing a face with a name, along with a post about being excited to be a part of the event, boosts visibility among fellow attendees.
Create A Contact Strategy
Networking events usually mean drinks and hors d’oeuvres. With hands full and many conversations underway, business cards are often tucked away in places never to be found…and sometimes, that all important phone number ends up on a napkin in the trash.
If the collected information is scattered around, it’s unlikely meaningful follow-up will happen. Take time before the event to consider how information will be collected. Choosing a designated pocket on a suit jacket, or placing an envelope in a purse, encourages organization that will pay off in the long run.
Practice The Elevator Speech
Networking is a two-way street and it’s a given that people will ask each other what they do. Attendees should always be prepared to talk about their business. Identifying three interesting and compelling talking points that relate to, or are helpful to others attending the event, is a must.
When putting the talking points together, the attendee should focus on their value proposition or differentiator. It’s the all-important elevator speech, which should be unique and concise. And not to be forgotten—it’s a networking event, so one should always remember to make it a two-way conversation.
There will only be a few people who stand out at a networking event—the ones worthy of the follow-up call. By taking some of these simple steps prior to the evening out, it’s ensuring a much better shot of being the one on the other end of that call.