“Networking is an essential part of building wealth,” says entrepreneur, political commentator and author Armstrong Williams. Love them or hate them, networking events are an inevitable part of your professional life. But despite all the potential benefits of networking, only a few of us plan ahead and try to grab the opportunity that comes our way.
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Here are a few ways you can effectively network at events:
Networking events present the perfect platform for boosting yours or your brand’s image. While this is important, let’s not forget that people who raise questions never go unnoticed. Be it during a panel discussion or an open discussion, pitch relevant questions to speakers and listen to their answers. This can also serve as an opportunity to interact with them later on at the event.
Be the middle man
It is not always necessary for you to do all the talking and networking yourself. You can also introduce an introvert or a reserved person into a discussion and emerge as the winning personality in the conversation. Simultaneously, you will end up looking more confident and be able to build new relations of your own. People always remember who pointed them in the right direction and who put them in touch with someone useful, and if and when the time arises, they will happily do the same for you.
Don’t push or pitch
Many feel that a networking event is a quick way to gain access to influential people for quick investment money. While it’s true that you can gain access to influential people, pushing your product, service or personal brand at an event can often rub people the wrong way and turn them away from you. Your enthusiasm for what you do might be seen as desperation for the same.
It is impossible for you to remember everything during an event. So make sure you take a small notepad to take down key points that you can build up on later. Speakers may also give out their email addresses and contacts during the event. After you mingle with others post the event and collect business cards, you can take down notes to record who is who and how they can be beneficial to you.
A certain conversation might make you yawn, and you might want to simply leave it and go speak to the speaker who just walked into the room. However, it’s rude to abruptly leave a person you are in a conversation with. A better way to make an exit would be to slowly stir the conversation to an end and then make your way out.
Pay attention to body language
Shaking hands is the perfect way to send out a positive body language image. In a crowd, you can approach the speaker by simply shaking their hand and politely steer the conversation and their attention towards you. Maybe at some point, your conversation might take a negative turn. But with a firm handshake, you can end it on a positive note.
Focus on quality
Don’t spend your time on tacit conversations that don’t really benefit you. Aim to make real connections by asking the right kind of questions. Listen intently, and try moving beyond small talk. That is the trait which will take you ahead in the game of networks.
Say you met someone who has shown interest in what you do and would love to learn more. Make sure you take note of their interest. Ensure you take their business card and drop a remainder email right away. If you wait longer it might show lack of interest.
Being effective at a networking event is not rocket science. But with some preparation and a concrete action plan, you’re sure to make the most of it. Hopefully, these tips should help you during your next networking event.