Judith is the Founder and CEO of Financial Executive Women (FEW), which promotes the positive progression of women through experience, guidance and support.
Essential tips to help you make the most from networking events.
I often get the question about what is the best way to make the most out of networking events. The first tip would be to be selective and deliberate about what networking events you are going to and why.
Why are you going there?
To make sales?
Consolidate existing relationships?
Make new connections in the industry?
Because you were told to?
Prepare before each event
Remember, networking events are work functions, so prepare as much as you can and have a plan; why are you going and what do you want to achieve?
Have your elevator pitch ready for when someone asks you what you do; you want to sound professional.
If it’s a networking event run by your organisation, see if you can get the list of attendees to check out who is going on LinkedIn.
Make sure you have plenty of business cards or an electronic one.
If you go into the event with the ‘I don’t want to be here’ attitude, then you are wasting your time; so change your attitude.
At the event
If this is your first time at a networking event, or you find these events intimidating, then try this:
Change your attitude from ‘I don’t know anyone’ to ‘They don’t know me – yet’.
Don’t put people on levels, but instead, change your attitude to everyone is the same and I am not going to be intimidated by someone who is older or more senior than me.
If someone is standing by themselves at the event, go up and introduce yourself. Even if there is a small group, do the same. However, assess the situation first. If the small group looks like they are in casual conversation, then it’s okay to approach, but if they look like they are discussing business, then don’t interrupt, as you run the risk of upsetting someone.
Close a conversation with someone who you want to connect with again by saying: ‘I’ll connect with you on LinkedIn and let’s make a time to catch up.’ However, have a reason why you want to catch up, like wanting to hear more about what they are doing.
Remember, not many people are master networkers. They all started somewhere and were all intimidated the first time. It takes practise and courage to shift your mind set.