Some Thoughts Before a Networking Event
So I’m getting ready to go to a NACE networking event this evening and have been trying to prepare myself mentally so I can get the most out of it. This isn’t a typical NACE meeting because we’ve invited as many wedding and event industry professionals together to network at no charge. We’re expecting about 60 to 70 people so it should be a great event. The goal of the meeting is to get people more acquainted with NACE and to recruit members. However, my goal is not only to help this organization I’m a part of but to make contacts and have conversations that will help me in my wedding business.
I have two unique opportunities already at this event. First, I have the RSVP list since my responsibility is that of communication and collecting responses. Also, I’m planning on working the sign-in table so literally will have the opportunity to greet everyone that comes in. I’m not a naturally outgoing and person and don’t typically like jumping into conversations in a typical networking setting…I’m just not wired that way. Knowing that, however, I have put myself in a position as “official greeter” which helps me overcome that timidity in these types of scenarios.
So, as I think about preparing for this and really any type of networking event, I have just a couple thoughts:
Business Cards – This may seem obvious but it’s crazy just how many people (myself included from time to time) forget to bring business cards. So first of all, I need to bring mine. Second, I like to make a goal as to how many I will give out. Tonight I’m hoping to give out about 15. Third, I like to make a goal as to how many cards I will collect from others. I would like to collect the same number, 15. Actively seeking cards and information from other people helps you come across as someone interested in other people and not as interested in just pushing your cards and info on to someone else.
People I Don’t Know – Because I have the RSVP list, I can see who I don’t know and make a point to meet them and introduce myself to them during the event. If I didn’t have the list, I would check the event page or organization page to see who was planning on attending. I would identify people at the actual event and make a point to get an introduction with them.
Name Tags – You can never expect people to remember your name. If you have a name tag, wear it. If not, use one of the handwritten ones you can buy at an office store and bring them to share with the group. Name tags are great tools because they also help you remember or appear to remember the names of acquaintances you may not have been able to remember otherwise. I don’t have an official name tag although I’ve been telling myself for a while that I should get one so I will make sure there are plenty of sticker ones there for others in the same boat.
Follow Up – Great things are usually discussed at networking meetings such as potential leads, potential partnerships, and inside industry information. However, much of this momentum and wealth of information is lost because we don’t follow up. I have a small notebook I will keep with me to keep track of any key bits of information or contacts I need to get with so that I don’t forget. In addition, I have scheduled about 30 minutes tomorrow go through these notes and to make any plans for additional actions that need to be taken. Additional actions could include sending an email, scheduling an appointment, scheduling a time to meet for lunch, linking with someone on a social site, sending a handwritten card, and so on.
Do you make a habit of preparing yourself before networking events? What other considerations do you make before interacting with people in this manner?
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