Networking events and activities are a great way to meet new contacts, build relationships, and market your business. Since networking is an opportunity, we should embrace it and have a positive approach. There is much more to networking than just showing up to an event or activity. There are a few process steps we should take, at a minimum, to get the most out of a networking event or activity.
Pre-Networking Preparation. Prior to the event contact the host or sponsor of the event to see if you can get a list of guests that plan to attend. Identify key guests that you would like to meet. Have a minimum of 30 to 50 of your business cards on hand. Take a pen with you to the event.
Actual Networking Event. Look for key contacts that you have identified. Introduce yourself to others and ask questions to break the ice (Are you from the area? Have you ever attended an event like this one? What do you do for a living? What do you do for fun/recreation?). Seek to learn about other’s business and lives. Ask for business cards and make notes on the cards after the conversation (After the conversation!). Only give out your card to people that ask for it. Do not walk up to people and just hand them your business card. Trust me, it’s just wrong.
Post-Networking Event. Send emails or make phone calls to people you met to let them know you enjoyed meeting and talking with them. You may ask to set up a meeting, coffee, or a phone call to learn a little more about their business. Work to set up another conversation to get to know them a little better and learn a little more about their business. Add the new business cards and new people you meet to your contact list or data base.
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