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Networking - Making the most out of events https://quickclicksecurity.com/news/Networking+-+Making+the+most+out+of+events/MzhfbmV3cw https://quickclicksecurity.com/news-images/1200/1581605857-49931.jpg So, you signed up to the event, haven’t put much thought into since you got the ticket and your phone just pinged a notification that it’s tomorrow.  What now?! For some people, attending a networking event sounds about as muc

Networking - Making the most out of events

February 13, 2020

So, you signed up to the event, haven’t put much thought into since you got the ticket and your phone just pinged a notification that it’s tomorrow.  What now?!

For some people, attending a networking event sounds about as much fun as going to the dentist. Necessary? Absolutely.  Enjoyable? Not so much.  However, networking and the ability to build connections is so important in this day and age so as much as I sympathise – you just need to get out there!  Networking tops the list as the most effective way to finding a new job… it’s not what you know it’s who you know!

Here are some tips to make the most out of the event and any connections you make…

Show up!

The first, very important job you have to do, is actually go!  It’s very easy to talk yourself out of going to an event, especially if you are tired or if you feel nervous that you won’t know anyone. Most people feel exactly the same when going into an unfamiliar situation – the only way it gets easier is with practice (and some helpful tips) and its usually always worth it!

Most people that attend events go as much for the networking and contacts as they do for they event content, and so you would be surprised at how easy it is to strike up a conversation with someone you have never met before and know nothing about.

Practice your elevator pitch

If you are going to an event for a particular purpose then make sure you are prepared with your 60-90 second “pitch” – or what we call an elevator pitch.  Practising a succinct way to get your point across means you are less likely to start waffling and going off on a tangent if there is a particular service or product you want to talk about or point you need to get across.

Saying that you don’t have to spend the entire time talking about work.  The best networking connections, in my opinion, come when you realise you actually have shared interests, values and/or hobbies so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine!  There is obviously a line – don’t start spilling your deepest darkest secrets!

Consider who is attending and who you would like to speak with

If you do know who is attending the event then perhaps make a wish list of people or organisations you would like to approach and connect with.  Take a look at their LinkedIn profile so you know what they look like and so it’s easier for you to spot them.  Even consider touching base with them beforehand- send a message on LinkedIn asking if they are attending and if they might have 5 minutes for a quick chat – there’s no harm in asking!

Set some reasonable expectations for yourself so that you make the most out of the event – what are you trying to find out? Do you want to feel out a new organisation?  Do you want to meet 5 specific people or make a 1st point of contact with 2 specific organisations? Having some expectations will also give you the nudge to remove yourself from conversations that are not perhaps of benefit to you as you don’t have time to waste!

Arrive early

Resist the urge to arrive late – showing up late means its more likely people have already formed small groups and are mid conversation making it slightly more daunting to make an approach – not that you can’t, you definitely can!

Don’t be afraid to join in!

If you walk into an event and don’t know anyone (which can be daunting even to regular networkers) take a moment to take in the room. If it’s a seated event then find a spot next to someone and introduce yourself “Hi I’m [name], how are you”  (make sure you have a good hand shake!) and then just let the conversation flow. 

If people haven’t taken up seats yet or you arrive before the event starts I often head to wherever they are serving water and drinks – that gives me a moment or two to look around the room, see if I know anyone, or establish if anyone on my hitlist is there. I find it’s also where most people who are not sure who to speak to hover so you should be in good company.

Like I said, most people go to events with the intention of meeting new people and building their network.  If you do go up to a group in mid conversation, wait a moment until the person speaking has finished and just introduce yourself.  If you get a sense that you have perhaps entered at the wrong moment or it’s a serious discussion, then don’t feel any type of way about excusing yourself. 

If you wanted contact details then make sure you ask for them before you leave (trying to chase down someone later on can be difficult and you will kick yourself if you miss out on an opportunity!) or exchange business cards.  Again, it is very rare anyone is going to judge you or think twice about you being pro-active at an event.

Smile

You might feel nervous (or completely overwhelmed) but just smile and breathe.  Smiling makes you come across as approachable and friendly and it’s more likely someone will come and approach you if you look happy to be there!

Follow up after the event

Don’t forget to follow up with an email or LinkedIn message to anyone that you spoke to or exchanged details with.  My network has been built from meeting people at events, having an initial 5-10 minute chat and later following up and arranging a coffee.  As your network grows, so too will the amount of introductions you get – introductions that again you must proactively follow up on!

The rate at which your network will begin to expand if you follow these steps may surprise you.

Good luck!

For more helpful tips and interesting articles register at Quick Click Security.

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