You need to prepare for a networking event - here's how!
It does not matter if you are starting your own business or working for an MNC, networking is a must for any professional. It can help escalate your career to new heights and enrich your personal relationships. The best aspect of networking is that it builds everlasting relationships.
So how do you prepare yourself to be ready for your next networking meet, make a great impression and build meaningful relationships with those attending the event? Here are a few pointers to help you out:
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Identify what you can gain
Evaluate what you will gain from attending this event. To do this, ask yourself what your needs are. These could be any of the following:
- Meeting a new client
- Gathering information
- Getting feedback on your product or service
- Recruiting new talent
- Building existing relationships
- Introducing yourself to industry experts to increase your visibility
Do your homework
Once you’ve picked out your event, it’s time to gather the critical information. Look out for speakers at the event and read up on the topics that they would be talking about. Then, think of topics you would wish to discuss with them. This can include both the post-talk interactive sessions and the post-event networking chats with people you have chosen to interact with. In case you are looking forward to meeting a particular person at the event, catch up with them on LinkedIn prior to the event. The person would receive your connection request and will value it as you are showing interest in their work. Also, keep a track of people you may know who might be attending the event. Look up their networks and know their reasons for attending the event.
Work on an elevator pitch
Don’t forget to work on an elevator pitch, since you will be required to introduce yourself to people at networking events. Keep it brief, and in those few minutes, give them an idea about who you are, your skills, your experience, your expectations and any other information which might be of interest to them. Here are some quick pointers to help you out:
- Present yourself: Talk about what you do and why you do it.
- The game changer: Talk about the problem you are currently solving
- Give examples: Always mention examples or clients to explain your job
End your pitch with a question to continue the conversation. To ease your nervousness, try writing down your pitch or narrating it out loud. In case you are meeting people belonging to different industries, tailor your pitch accordingly.
Contact the organisers of the event and ask them how you can help. You will feel much more at ease when you are entrusted with responsibilities at such events. If someone gives you the job of greeting, passing out nametags or checking people in, you will be more confident. It will also provide you the opportunity to meet a lot of people under this ‘veil of responsibility’. At the same time, people will respond better to you if you are a part of the team that runs the event.
Wear a conversation starter. You will be only noticed if you dress sharp and for the occasion. Display a polished and professional look with a strong personality. Put on a smile, grab your business cards and be ready to shake some hands.
Have any secret networking tricks up your sleeves? Share it with us in the comments section below.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)