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How To Network at Large Events – Part 2
Following on from How to Network at Large Events – Part 1, I bring you How to Network at Large Events – Part 2!
You’re armed with objectives, you’ve arrived early, you’ve prepared your company intro, so what’s next?
Well you’ll need to start talking to people!
Yikes! Cringe, butterflies in stomach, hands get sweaty, breath starts getting a little faster as your heartbeat soars. So what can be done to ease the situation?
Well read on my friend! So first things first:
9. Have Some Questions Prepared
Conversation points is a hugely worrying prospect for many people who set out to network.
Having some questions prepared in advance can help break the ice, set the tone for a positive event and alleviate the stress.
Don’t overthink it, but do try to keep to open ended questions. Closed loop questions can be answered with a yes or no, so the conversation goes no where.
Here are a few sample questions to start with after you’ve shaken hands and introduced yourself:
a) Hi Mandy, my name is William. Lovely to meet you. So what do you do?
Which then leads to:
b) What brought you here today?
c) How long have you been doing what you’re doing?
d) How are XYZ trends affecting your business?
e) What has changed since Covid?
By getting the other person to talk about themselves, you are showing interest, getting them comfortable and this is an especially good tactic for introverts who need to conserve their energy, i.e. let others do the talking!
f) Who are you looking to be introduced to today? OR
g) How can I help you? Who in my rolodex can I introduce to you?
If the conversation is coming to a natural conclusion and you want to continue networking, why not try this on for size:
h) ‘I don’t want to keep you from more networking. Is there anyone that I can introduce you to here at the event or indeed from my own contact sphere?’ (feel free to paraphrase and put it whatever way comes naturally to you!)
i) Is there anyone that you feel I should meet?
10. Sit With a New Group
If you already know quite a few people, your opportunity to catch up with them can be done at the mingling stage. You’re at a networking event, so be focussed on this fact.
Networking doesn’t happen to you. You make networking happen. Sit with as many new faces as possible.
And remember, these people are likely to be as nervous as you, so refer to point 6, smile and start the conversation to enquire about the other people at your table.
This is especially important if you are an employee and going with a team. Divide and conquer, as they say. Split up and go to different tables. This gives your company a much wider reach, but it’s also an unselfish act in that you are not depriving the others at the table of meeting less companies.
3 individual attendees do not want to sit at a table with 5 people from one company. By doing this you are limiting your own prospects and limiting their reach.
11. Business Cards
Get a business card if it’s meaningful to you and give yours out when requested.
Make a quick note of where you met the person, date and a quick synopsis of any follow up actions.
Again, you’re not looking to bring home a tonne of cards, just a select few with whom you can have meaningful follow up converations. And this leads me nicely to the next point…
12. Networking Toolkit
Being prepared never goes out of fashion.
When it comes to dresscode, decide well in advance what you want to wear. A pop of colour goes a long way to helping you stand out!
Have a stack of business cards ready and waiting in a holder. Having them in a little holder, means you also have somewhere to put the ones you’ve collected.
I like to have a little notepad and pen ready too for any notes I might want to make on people I meet, follow up, things I’ve learned from the speaker etc.
Fliers may or may not be appropriate to bring. It very much depends on the event, expectations, set up etc, so here is where talking to the host and event organiser is crucial.
13. Connect With The Speaker
When a speaker is finished, it can be a nice touch to reach out to thank them for their time and to share some points that you learned from their talk. The speaker will be delighted and you are further extending your networking pool.
14. Pay Attention
You’ve paid and taken the time out to attend the event, so there’s no point in sitting down looking at your phone. You’re there to learn and to meet new people. The information you learn can be used in further conversations and could potentially be marketing content for a blog or social media posts.
Another point to note is that speakers can tell if you’re paying attention or not – if not, then it damages your reputation and credibility.
15. Maximise Your Time
Time is precious for all of us. Where and when possible, I think it’s a great idea to organise a 1-2-1 around the event.
My preference would be to organise a meetup before the event for a couple of reasons.
1. You have a friendly face at the event to walk into the room with.
2. If the event runs over, then you’re not worrying about time and can get back to the office.
3. It’s likely that your energy is going to be depleted after all the networking, so you are going to need to take time out to recharge, particularly if you are an introvert.
16. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
Just in case you haven’t got that point. Follow Up.
Make sure to do this within 24 hours ideally or withint 48 hours. Leaving it longer that, means that people won’t remember you as clearly. I advise to have follow up time carved out in your diary in advance of attending the event. That way, it’s not another task to add to your list, it’s something you’ve already planned for.
Be personal in your follow up, reference points in the conversation as an example. Connect on Linkedin and social and if you’ve not already done so.
Organise a 1-2-1 the following week to continue getting to know the person. If you can’t meet them in person, why not send on your Calendly link and get them to book in a Zoom call with you.
I hope that these tips for how to network at a large event will help you create focus, reduce the overwhelm, increase your impact and overall outcome when you attend your next networking events!
If you just show up, you’re just buying lunch for yourself. And an expensive one at that, by the time you add up your time, petrol, parking and so on.
If you’re reading these practical tips on how to network at large events and haven’t read my first 8 tips in part 1, then click here to add more food for thought!
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