Have you ever attended an event and once it’s over found yourself wishing you’d had a more fruitful networking experience? Let’s face it, over the course of an event you’re often interacting with droves of fellow professionals and you may be favoring a numbers game rather than focusing on making fewer, but more powerful connections. With that in mind here are a few networking strategies to adopt at events if you haven’t done so already.
- Abandon the Hard Sell.
That’s right – ditch the pitch. You want to establish a solid foundation with peers you meet at events on which to build lasting business relationships. Aim to make genuine connections with people. Use event end-of-day social mixers to just do that, be social. Coming in with the hard sell often results in others putting up barriers. As a result you’ll have to work even harder to gain their trust. If you’ve got the sales or elevator pitch memorized, deploy it only if people request it after you’ve made a connection.
- Do Some Preliminary Work.
Find out ahead of time if the event is using an official #hashtag. If so, use it on social media leading up to the event communicating your excitement at attending as well as contributing to pre-show conversations online. See who else is using the hashtag ahead of the event and put some feelers out about meeting up when the event occurs.
- Be a Connector.
If you know people who’ll be attending the same event and think they’ll benefit from connecting with each other, be the one to make those introductions! Successful networkers genuinely like to help out others and if you’re a believer in karma or whatever-goes-around-comes-around, then you’ll reap unexpected rewards from facilitating and igniting connections between others.
- Business Cards.
Even in this social media and app rich world, it doesn’t look like the humble business card is going anywhere in a hurry. Self-employed? Create a funky design that reflect your brand persona. There’s plenty of affordable online options to get cards printed cheaply, and a design that stands out can really refresh the memory of people you’ve handed them to when they clear out their pockets and wallets at the end of the show.
- Follow Up Fast.
This is important in cementing the relationship foundation, and should be done within 24-48 hours so the connection doesn’t go tepid. Recap a highlight or two of the conversation and consider including a link to content relating to your discussion. Invite your new contacts to connect again over coffee or lunch either during or after the event. Don’t forget to connect on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media.
There you have it – a few simple ways to up your networking game. If there’s any other networking strategies that you’ve found to be fruitful when you’ve attended events, please tell us here.