Anybody can show up for a networking event. Those who win at these events, however, show up in a particular way and do some things before and when they arrive.
Let’s go find out what you should be doing before and after you show up.
1. Flush Out The Toxic Thoughts
A red tie. Denim jacket. The flats would be better. They won’t like me. I don’t meet the specs. Hey! It’s not a pageant!
Everyone at a networking event wants to connect. Go with plans to build relationships, learn new things and meet with the influencers in your industry.
Everything, the impostor syndrome, it’s all in your head. It’s okay to be new at web development, or freelance writing or even blogging.
But it’s not okay to feel bad because you’re not “good enough.” Because here’s the truth, as long as your business is innovating, you’d never be good enough. There’d always be something better.
And look at the brighter side, everyone at a conference is there to learn or improve on something.
So, nobody is actually good enough.
You want to meet people? They’d love to meet you too. Wear a beautiful smile as you move around and get ready to shake one or two hands.
2. Build Relationships Online
How does this sound- “Hi John, I loved the web hosting infographic you sent me on thursday, couldn’t help but share it on facebook” ?
Okay, how about this- “Hi John, nice blog post you had on thursday, I’ve always been a big fan”?
If you’re introverted like me, the first opener is more comforting.
When you build relationships online, you have a face, so conversations move from “you are who?” to “O the guy who blogs at…how is that going?”
Message those who’re in your circles and give them an invite if you feel they’d be interested. You’d get more familiar faces to start chatting with at the event.
And you know, everyone wants to meet the popular guy.
One quick way to get your name on the lips of most people in your industry is to target the influencers.
These guys have a large number of followers and just getting a piece of that could do your business very good.
You can use tools like Moz’s followerwonk to search for influencers on Twitter.
Find common interests you share with these influencers and interact on those topics.
And be natural, not spammy. Share before asking for a share, just be nice.
Before the conference, and if you’re sure a particular influencer you’ve connected with would be attending, you can take the conversation offline.
They’d appreciate the support.
3. Have A Plan
I agree. The reality would never be as smooth as the plan. But is that why you should be planning? No!
Actually, writing the plan forces you to think through the issues you may encounter.
So you’re going to this event, who do you want to meet? What are the questions you have in mind? How would you soak up all the info you’d be getting?
How? Where? Why? What?
If you want to avoid all the question marks, have a plan!
Every plan should start with your writing down the goals you intend to achieve. Write down the specific types of people you’d like to connect with.
If you don’t set goals, there’d be no way to track progress after the event.
And do your homework. Research the people or groups you’d want to meet. Know more about their lives and businesses so you’d have enough conversation starters.
4. Court Attention Like The Peacock
You struggle with starting conversations. You’re known to be a good listener. Then, be like the peacock. They can’t get lost in the crowd.
People should go….Hey who’s that, what’s he up to….when they see you. No, don’t be weird or anything but dress, walk and even talk in a way that makes others want to start the asking.
“Participant: Oh nice pants, what’s with the belt?
You: Ah, that’s eastern fashion, you run a clothing store?”
Yeah, your “peacocky” nature just got you in.
5. Ask A Lot Of Questions
People love to talk, especially about themselves. It makes them feel important and makes you feel knowledgeable.
You don’t want to be doing much of the answering, so your best bet is guiding the conversation in the way you want it to go by asking.
Your questions would help those you meet discover answers for themselves.
Remember you need relationships with the influencers? Yeah, you can ask your way into them.
Try to ask the right questions, and there are so many of them.
You can start by asking how they got to hear about the event, maybe they know the speaker, or someone in their network told them about it.
This question exposes the common interests you may share with the person, so you’re about to connect with them too.
Ask about the projects they’re working on. That question lets you into their struggles with the project and even opens up opportunities for you to offer help.
And ask about what they thought about a certain presentation or speaker.
Share your views about the speaker too. This question lets you know more about the areas of their business they’re going to apply what they’ve learned.
6. Position Yourself
Positioning is presenting yourself to the right people, at the right time and place.
If you’re at a networking event, you’re at the right place. So how do you meet the right people?
You can volunteer to help in doing the things that guarantee the success of the event. Working behind the scenes affords you that opportunity.
Another way? Simple. Ask to be introduced. Since you’ve started talking to a few people already, ask if they know any influencers you’d like to meet.
When you meet those influencers, you need to see them as your ladder to success, so make a good first impression.
And never forget, follow up. Get all your contact information in one place, this makes the follow up easier and more convenient.
Positioning also applies to the way you convey your message during a follow-up.
Religiously follow these tips and there’s no reason why you would lose at networking.