Regardless of the event you’re attending, you have an opportunity to expand your professional network of contacts. By meeting new people in your industry, you’ll open yourself up to new career opportunities while also gaining potential collaborators who will share their business acumen with you.
While most attendees will agree that event networking is a critical component to attending any event, the real question becomes how can it be done effectively?
Here are 5 proven event networking tips that will help any event attendee make more valuable business connections at any event they attend.
- Do Your Homework
Research who is attending the event you’re going to prior to event day. If the event you’re attending is using an event networking platform, by all-means download it and create an attendee profile. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see who else is attending the event. You can reach out to people you find interesting to introduce yourself and to set up a time to meet in-person.
If the event you’re attending doesn’t have a networking platform, you can still research who’s attending the event.
Contact the event organizer or go the event website to find the event’s official hashtag. Then go on social media and search that hashtag. The accounts who are posting content using the event hashtag will likely be at the event. You can research their profiles and reach out to people you find interesting to set up a time to meet in-person.
- Introduce People to One Another
It’s going to happen. You’ll be talking to a person you just met, when you notice someone standing nearby with no one to talk to. Rather than ignoring that person, incorporate them into the conversation too. Take one small step back, turn your body to face them and introduce yourself and your new connection.
By including more people in your conversation, you’re ensuring that both you and your new contact’s network will grow.
This is also an effective way of prolonging a conversation that might otherwise flitter out once you and your new contact run out of things to talk about.
- Have an Exit Strategy
It’s more than ok to excuse yourself from a conversation. In fact, introverted event goers will find it comforting to have an exit strategy in mind even before they engage with a new contact.
One great way to politely end a conversation is to say something like, “Hey, it was great to meet you. I’ve got to quickly check-in with my office but I’m sure I’ll see you later.”
Your new contact will understand that it’s important to stay in-touch with your colleagues, and you’ll have provided yourself with an acceptable out once your conversation has come to a natural conclusion.
- Participate in Post-Event Groups
After the event has concluded, it’s likely that either the event organizer or an event attendee will create a post-event networking group on a social media platform. LinkedIn is a popular platform for professional groups to exchange contact information and helpful, industry related articles.
If you’re invited to join one of these groups, don’t hesitate to sign up. They’re a great way to further expand your circle of contacts and to solidify the relationships you’ve made at the event.
- Offer Value to New Contacts
The best way to solidify a new business connection is to provide value – for free. If for example someone you just met was talking about difficulties they were having at work, emailing them an article you found online is a fantastic way to quickly establish yourself as a valuable connection.
These new contacts will feel obliged to do the same for you. By putting in a little effort to help a new connection, you’re helping to build a foundation for your newly established relationship.
Furthermore, by checking in with new contacts online, you’re ensuring that the person you just met will actually remember who you are, should you want to call on them in the future.
Conclusion: How to Maximize the Value of an Event
In order to get the most out of an event you’re attending it’s important that you invest some time in the networking process. To gain valuable connections, first do some homework on the people who are attending the event. If you’re event is using an event networking platform, use it. Otherwise, take to social media.
When at the event, always try to introduce new contacts to one another, and have an exit plan in mind (this is especially helpful for introverted event goers). After the event, join any post-event networking groups that you’re invited to, and provide the contacts you’ve created with real value.