Mel Kettle is a communications and social media consultant, speaker, blogger, educator, coach, bookworm, obsessive foodie and eatie, and a budding photographer. She blogs on marketing and social media at www.melkettle.com.au. Mel is passionate about working with organisations to show them how to communicate effectively so they can develop communities, share their stories and raise awareness. She particularly enjoys working with people who want to make a difference to other people’s lives. In her spare time Mel writes a food blog, The cook’s notebook.
My last blog post was about how to choose which networking events to go to.
So now that you have chosen, how are you going to make sure you get the most out of the event or conference? These are my top networking tips:
1. Take LOTS of business cards – there is nothing more frustrating than meeting someone interesting and having to rely on them to contact you because THEY don’t have a card. Don’t be one of those people. Please. I am currently trying to track down a woman I met at a networking event recently to give her some work, but she didn’t have a card to give me, and hasn’t sent me her details – it’s making it a little tricky…
2. Have a plan. Depending on the type of event, I generally plan to meet – and have a conversation with – a specific number of people. It might be one, it might be ten. The actual number depends on how much time will be allocated for networking, the format of the event and my mood at the time!
Try and have a look at the attendee list so you can see who will be there and where they are from – this can help you target specific people to talk to. With so many events now registering people online, it’s far easier to see who is going to be there, as often online lists are created. Some fabulous event organizers will even create a Twitter list or a Facebook group of attendees so you can start the conversation before you meet! How cool is that??
3. Don’t just hang around with your friends or the people you are comfy with. Presumably you have gone to a networking event to network. So go and meet people! And yes, as an introvert I do know this can be difficult. Just talk to one new person. Please! It does get easier.
4. Try and learn something about the people you meet. Don’t just fling around as many cards around as you can! You are better off meeting five people and finding out something about them so that a relationship can be established, rather than “meeting” 25 people you just give a card to. Be genuine about who you are when you are talking to people. Show interest in who they are and what they do. It’s not ALL about you!
5. Follow up within a day or so. This can be as simple as sending an email saying you enjoyed meeting them. Or perhaps sending an interesting article you found that is about something they are interested in. Don’t send them reams of information about your business and how you want to work with them – unless they specifically asked for it.
6. Please, please, please don’t drink too much alcohol at a networking or industry function. It doesn’t take much to ruin a hard-earned reputation. And no one really wants to talk to the tipsy chick or the drunk dude who is starting to slur his words.
7. Most of all, have fun!
What are your top networking tips to make the most out of networking events?