Let’s face it: networking events can be intimidating. You’re worried about what to talk about, how to represent your company, and how to show off the best version of yourself. Thankfully, with a little planning, you can keep your nerves at bay and network like a pro. Try out these tips at your next big networking event to ensure you score that second meeting.
- Unless someone is working at a company booth, it’s always nice to start your conversation with a question about the person’s interests. By opening with, “What are you most excited for this week?”, you differentiate yourself from those who initiate conversations with their own interests in mind. In other words, you highlight that you’re interested in them as a human, rather than just a business connection.
- Yet while you might want to be remembered most for your conversational skills, a large part of making a good impression is doing your research. Make a list of goals before you arrive at the event, and target a few key attendees who can help you meet them. For example, maybe you want to pitch your latest product update to five people. Find out who’s attending from the event page or organizer, note who’s most relevant to you, and reach out to them on Twitter or LinkedIn beforehand. A pre-event intro could even make a good in-person ice-breaker.
- While you’re at an event, make sure to demonstrate your value in person. There’s only so much you can do to communicate your offering online, so while you are networking, take the opportunity to do a product demonstration or field questions about your company. These in-person meetings allow you to put a voice to your brand that could seal the deal for new prospects.
- Aside from snagging lots of free stuff, the purpose of attending trade shows and conferences is to meet leads— and hopefully convert them into clients down the road. But, as we mentioned, that doesn’t mean that you should treat everyone like a walking dollar sign.
- Instead of rushing to get your pitch out, listen actively to the people you meet. And, as Dale Carnegie would advise, make sure to use their name in conversation. As he suggests in How To Win Friends and Influence People, “A person’s name, to that person, is the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” So start working on your memory now!
- It sounds antithetical to the very spirit of networking, but don’t hand your business card out to every person you see. For example, CEOs get tons of business cards every day. However, this method of interacting forces the person to accept their contact information, even if they’re not genuinely interested. Instead, simply ask for their card. This approach highlights your interest in the person, and suggests that you’re not interacting with them solely to sell your services— even if you are. No judgment.
- Lastly, don’t head into the event space without an idea of the layout. You could easily waste an hour trying to figure out where all the B2B Marketing panels are. Instead, check out the event’s website in advance. If a detailed schedule and map aren’t available, simply call the organizers and ask for an emailed PDF. Boom. Now you can maximize your time for networking and learning.
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