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Inbound Marketing Blog

    How to Get More Out of Networking Events

    Posted by Brittney Ervin

    Don’t Be a Networking Failure

    The average person shudders at the idea of walking into a crowded room, knowing that they need to chat with and gain the contact information of, say, at least five individuals. The mere thought of the approach, breaking the ice and finding something to talk about can give even the most social among us cold feet. Unfortunately, for business owners and industry leaders, networking is among the most important and beneficial practices we can adopt. In fact, networking might be the difference between success and painstaking failure for our companies, especially in the age of social media.

    Are you a professional who finds networking nearly impossible? Do you feel frazzled or overwhelmed by the notion of talking to strangers, making conversation and building connections? Do you have a networking event on the horizon that you aren’t looking forward to? It may be because you don’t have the tools to make the most of each networking event you attend. To help remedy this crippling fear.

    Understand Why Networking is Important

    One reason many professionals don’t network successfully is that they don’t see the benefits it can provide for their business. Just because they’ve been told of the value of networking doesn’t mean they believe and understand it well enough to execute an effective networking strategy on their own.

    In the age of social media, networking plays a vital role in the visibility, relevance and success of your company. Why is networking important? Here are a few key reasons:

    • Networking helps you build connections within your own industry.
    • Those connections can help you find new recruits, new job opportunities, or new business partners.
    • Networking can improve your social skills, the efficiency of your communication and the confidence with which you discuss your company.
    • Networking is a great way to mix up your usual work schedule. Getting out of the office and into a more dynamic atmosphere might help inspire new ideas and new approaches to current problems.

    Of course, these are only a handful of ways in which networking can benefit you and your company. You might discover myriad additional benefits when you finally dive in and take full advantage of your networking events.

    Choose the Right Event

    For many of us, simply finding the right networking event is a headache. Luckily, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to help you find the networking events which are convenient to your location and will offer the kind of valuable interaction you’re looking for. Here are a few outstanding online resources for finding the best networking opportunities for you:

    1. Eventbrite is an invaluable asset when it comes to finding all manner of networking opportunities. Find conferences, food and wine events, fundraisers and more, all catered to your city of choice. You’ll also get phone numbers, addresses, prices and event descriptions, making the purchase of tickets and other vital elements super easy.
    2. Eventful is great website for finding and getting information on a variety of event types in your area. You’re able to browse events in over 29 categories, allowing for a highly specific search.
    3. LinkedIn offers an events sections on your homepage, allowing you constant exposure to great events in your area. If you utilize LinkedIn Groups, you can stay abreast of the networking events that your fellow group members are interested in.
    4. TheNetworkingGurus is a great resource for finding different networking organizations, chambers of commerce, service organizations and online networking websites. They’ll provide you with links and information in one convenient place.

    Be Prepared

    Another big part of successful networking is to walk in prepared and ready to go. This means knowing how and where you will organize your business cards. Decide how you will categorize each card you receive so it will be easy to access at a later time.

    Be certain to bring an ample number of your own business cards; there’s always the likelihood that you’ll meet your best connection of the evening right before the event is over and, having already passed out all of your business cards, you must to resort to jotting your contact information down on a cocktail napkin. Make the best first impression possible by being completely prepared, each and every time.

    Dress the Part

    Speaking of first impressions, your attire says far more about you than you may realize.

    For most of us, the way we present ourselves at work, during business meetings and at networking events will directly influence the way that our employees, business contacts and customers assess both us, both as people and as professionals. Additionally, our attire and appearance is a great way to set ourselves apart from the crowd, especially in a large sea of people at a networking event where you have a limited amount of time to make connections. Here are a few key ways to dress for success at your next networking event:

    • Be presentable. Match your clothing choices to the season and type of event you’ll be attending. Look for guidelines in the event’s information before the date arrives so you can dress accordingly.
    • Be comfortable. Wearing uncomfortable clothing or shoes will only serve to exacerbate nervousness or anxiety. Choose an outfit that is comfortable when you’re both sitting and standing; wear shoes that will allow you to stand for a long period of time while still offering support for your feet. At the end of the day, comfortable clothing and what it entails is left to your discretion. But recognizing the value of comfortable clothes in a networking setting is vital.
    • Be noticeable. Of course, there is a fine line between noticeable and distracting. Making yourself noticeable simply means adding elements to your outfit or appearance that help set you apart from the rest of the crowd. A pop of tasteful color, where it’s an elegant piece of jewelry, a scarf or another accessory, can help your contacts remember you.

    Have a Plan—and a Goal

    Finally, it’s important to know what you hope to gain from each and every networking event. Perhaps you’ll be attending a networking event in the hopes of meeting potential candidates for positions in your company. Maybe you’re on the lookout for a new business partner. Maybe you’re simply going for insight into the trends and leaders in your industry. Do research on the events which are most likely to yield the types of contacts you’re hoping to make.

    Have a goal set for number of contacts you’d like to make by the end of the night. Whether it’s 2, 5 or 10, having a game plan in place will help you get more out of your event. Even if you only give and receive business cards, you’ve taken the first step towards building a lasting and beneficial relationship. 

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    photo credit: thetaxhaven via photopin cc

    Topics: Inbound Marketing