As a business owner or a career professional, one of the keys to growing a profitable brand or building a successful career is in your network. This is because the more quality people you know, the more you increase your chances of having access to life-changing opportunities that can catapult you from obscurity into the limelight. And in order to increase the quality of people in your network, you much learn the art of networking. Learning the art of networking, however, comes with constant practice as with everything in life. My first networking event was what I’ll term nerve-wrecking because I found myself in a room of 200+ business professionals. I found it highly uncomfortable to introduce myself to others and at the end of the day, I left without seizing the golden opportunity that was presented to me. Today, my story is different. I attend networking events well prepared to network with others and get the most out of it and here are seven (7) tips for getting the most out of your next networking event:
- Find out what type of guests the event will attract: Successful networking is not just about attending any type of networking event, it’s about attending events that will be relevant to your growth. Prior to accepting an invitation to attend a networking event, you must conduct your due diligence and find out what type of guests the events will attract. The type of
- Plan your outfit ahead of time: Now that you know the type of guests that will attend the networking event, you should begin to plan your outfit way ahead of time. You must find out from event organizers what the appropriate type of dressing is. You should not be overdressed or underdressed. If possible, take time to visit the organizer’s social media accounts or website to see if they’ve planned similar events and observe the mode of dressing for past events. Do not wait until the last minute so you won’t be flustered and disoriented
- Know your route and plan your mode of transportation: Unless you already know how to find your way to the venue of the networking event, you should plan your mode of transportation ahead of time
- Practice your elevator pitch: Networking events can be uncomfortable especially when you have to walk up to a stranger to introduce yourself. One way to reduce anxiety and make this more bearable is by exuding confidence that comes with practicing your elevator pitch way ahead of time. When you learn how to introduce yourself properly and with confidence, it creates a memorable experience for those who interact with you. This will, in turn, encourage them to follow up with you.
- Take plenty of business cards: There’s nothing that screams not being serious more than attending a networking event with a business card. It’s like a farmer who shows up to the farm without his tools. How will he or she get the work done? Your business card is a small but powerful tool that sends a message to anyone you hand it to that you mean business. Always have an abundant supply of business cards and do not wait until you have an event before you start scrambling around
- Introduce yourself to others: On the day of the event, you must not only sit and chat with those you know, but you must also move around and interact with others you don’t know. Interacting with people you don’t already know is an opportunity to build your network. Avoid talking too much about yourself. Instead, ask questions and listen to others while they talk about themselves. Be sure to collect their business cards as well.
- Follow up: Collecting business cards is useless if you don’t follow up. There’s an old saying that states that “the money is in the follow up” You must get tired of following up because that’s where the money is. If you don’t follow up with someone whose business card you collected then it’s as good as not collecting the money at all.
In all, always remember that networking is a rewarding exercise and it’s not just about how networking events you attend, it’s about the quality of people you network with and your ability to make the best use of every opportunity.
Thank you so much for reading! What additional networking tips would you like to share? Please leave a comment. Also, if you found this piece valuable, kindly share with others.