Going to an in person networking event can be exciting, and also terrifying. Not to mention, stressful. But, there really isn’t any reason to worry too much. You can prepare yourself in advance and you’ll be sure to ace the in person networking event and come out of it better for it.
Remember, It’s Not a Party
An in person networking event is not a party. It’s imperative that you dress appropriately and behave properly. Even if alcohol is available, don’t get drunk. If you don’t handle your alcohol well, skip it and order virgin drinks or nurse one drink for a long time. A good thing to do is to alternate between drinks with alcohol and drinks without alcohol. Avoid sticky conversations regarding religion, politics and finances.
Research Presenters & Attendees
Before you go, you should know as much about the potential speakers and presenters and the other attendees as possible. When you meet each person face to face, it’s always nice to tell them something you know about them. For example, “I really loved your blog post about xyz.” This is a great way to start a conversation with others at the event. You’ll feel more comfortable the more you know about everyone.
Practice Your Elevator Speech
If you don’t have a 30 to 60 second elevator pitch yet, it’s time to get one together. This is how you will need to introduce yourself to others at the event. Once you give it, stop talking and ask questions of the person you’re with. They will enjoy talking about themselves and be more likely to remember you positively if you let them do the talking.
Meet the Right People
Rather than focusing on meeting a lot of people, focus on meeting the right people. If you knew who was attending the event prior to going, make a list of two or three people that you want to make contact with. Don’t try to meet as many people as possible. The quality of the people you meet is more important than the quantity. Plus, you probably won’t remember them well, and they won’t remember you either.
Hand Out Business Cards
When you meet people, always ask them if they have a business card first. Then when they give you theirs that is a good time to give them yours. For in person events, sometimes it is nice to have a business card with your headshot on it so that they can remember you more easily. Don’t forget to use the back of your card for additional information. You can even include a QR code on your card so that they can easily find information about you later online.
It’s important to practice with people you know at home before going to an in person event. Practice your elevator pitch, practice your handshake (firm but not painful) and other aspects of the in person event. Be sure to take some mints, wear deodorant, and dress right so that you feel confidant. It will help you feel more comfortable if you go in prepared.
Finally, don’t forget to follow up with everyone who gives you a card within 24 to 48 hours. A nice note thanking them for talking to you, and mentioning something you talked about, will go far in developing the relationship further.
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