As we come out of the COVID pandemic, we can expect live events to surge. In the meantime, virtual events are still a great way to network and exchange industry goals and information. However, whether it be an in-person or virtual event you need to choose wisely as your time and efforts are precious.
Finding the Right Venue
When choosing the right event to spend your time here are some considerations:
- Time and place. Essentially spending time to network takes away from your daily work obligations. The opportunity should outweigh what your regular work schedule requires.
- Several events have a scale of investment levels. Chose the right event that meets your budget. There are times where sponsoring, presenting and exhibiting make sense while other situations can be successful with walking the floor, planning dinners or participating in social activities.
- Attendees and Sponsors. Your time is precious, so do the homework on ensuring the attendees and participating sponsors are on target. Check the attendee list from previous years of the event to help verify the participation list.
Know your Audience
Once you determine that the audience is on target for networking, create a target list of who you want to connect with at the event. Also, make sure to have specific talking points that will help make the connection point relevant. For instance:
- Do you have common connections?
- Do you have prior experience with their company?
- Do you know any pain points that they could be experiencing?
- Is their specific service offerings or product knowledge that you can offer to them?
Understand the Conversation
Strategize your conversation and goal from the networking interaction. Everyone’s time is important and ensuring that an effective conversation is respectful and effective. Managing the conversation is critical to offer mutual benefits. If there is something you can offer make sure that you present that all the while by connecting on a personal basis. Never forget we are all human and making a personal connection is key to building strong and confident relationships and partnerships.
Gain the Attended Outcome
Once you have established a strong networking conversation, make sure you state the desired outcome. Whether it is a simple business card exchange, an industry referral, a next meeting or a cocktail in the lobby…ask for the outcome that you are intending. Never leave a conversation as a pointless conversation.
Don’t be shy to go for the “ask”, your confidence is key to your success. Also, networking should be expected in certain situations. So be confident and lead with your entrepreneurial spirit.
Follow-up as Necessary
Now that you have established a connection, it is imperative to follow-up and continue the conversation. Refer to your notes from the conversation and recall specific topics that make the previous connection point memorable. Follow-up on the “ask” and move the conversation forward. Also keep in mind people are busy to staying in contact can be a multi-step activity. Ensure outreach via social media as well. LinkedIn is a great way to validate your business networking interchange as well following the individual on Twitter and Instagram. Maintaining updates on your social profiles is also very important to ensure your professional validity and relevance.