Events have the power to fuel inspiration and personal growth, and to meet people that can transform your life. But that doesn’t make it any easier to unplug yourself from your inbox and head out to that networking event after a busy day - whether you’re the sociable type or not.
To make the most of your precious time, we've identified some habits that will spur you into getting out to that event - and ensure you reap the potential benefits as well.
Take a look at the guest list first. If it’s on Eventbrite, the organizer might have made it public on the event page. If not, organizers are often happy to email you the guest list in advance.
Is there anyone you’re particularly excited about meeting? Connect on Twitter before the event to get the conversation started early - or at the very least find a picture so you know who to look out for. It isn’t stalking – it’s preparation, so go for it!
If a talk is on a subject that’s new to you, read up on it - or the speaker – beforehand, so that when you inevitably start talking to other attendees, you’ve got some good starting points. This can also help you to think of an interesting question for the presenter, a great way of getting people to come and speak to you afterwards if they have the same problem.
Attitude Is Everything
You know that sink or swim moment when you arrive, see no familiar faces, and half consider turning around and leaving? Put on a smile, relax - and join the closest group (as naturally as possible, of course!). Listen actively to the conversation, armed with a conversation opener or two if needed, and engage. Unless you happen to have stumbled into a conversation in a foreign language, this tactic is almost fail-safe.
Being the one that starts the conversation doesn’t have to be awkward either. Most people love to talk about themselves (apparently it releases lots of feel-good hormones) so questions directed at individuals are a good place to start. Ask how they heard about the event, what they’ve enjoyed most so far, or what they’re working on at the moment. These may not be highly unique questions, but they’re fairly neutral and trusted ways to get the conversation flowing.
Don’t let it end at the event
Make sure that all those amazing conversations aren’t one-offs - connect with your new contacts on LinkedIn or Twitter, and check in with a tweet or short message every couple of months.
Finally, make it easy for people to find you. Condensing what you learnt at the event into a blog or on Storify, and tagging the people you met, positions you as curator and creates a record of the event for others. This could also be a great route in for you being the inspiration at this sort of event in the future!
Eventbrite is an online ticketing company that makes it easy for people to create events of any size.