Past Issues

September 28, 2009

Networking effectively at a business event

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Networking effectively at a business event

By Christine Cruz, HR Consultant / Careers & Workplace Writer

Some of you attend business networking events to meet other professionals in your industry or to market your company's services. Others go to take advantage of free food and the open bar, or because their boss made them. Either way, these networking events are necessary to enhance your career and professional network.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to maximize your networking at a business event:

1.) Prepare your business cards and elevator pitch

You will be meeting with professionals at the event who can become potential clients, business partners, or referral networks. Prepare to give your contact information and a solid description of who you are, and what you offer. Before the event have 25 - 30 business cards in hand. (If you don't have any, order them at VistaPrint.) Prepare your 30-second elevator speech to inform someone who you are, what your services are, what you are looking for, and how you add value to that professional relationship.

2.) Get to know the group leaders and organizers

Some networking events have hundreds of people attend, and only 1 or 2 hours for you to meet people. That makes it impossible to work the entire room without getting overwhelmed! So who would be the go-to-person who knows most of the attendees? Who already has established relationships with others in the room? The group leaders and group organizers. Leverage and partnership is key.

3.) Stand by the food table or open bar

If you are shy or intimidated by approaching new people, make them come to you. Standing by the food table or open bar gives you the opportunity to approach people in a casual setting, and see what is happening at the event. Plan who you want to strike up a conversation with. When someone new approaches for food or a drink, you can use that as an excuse to introduce yourself.

4. Take notes about each person on their business card

Carry a pen in your purse or pocket. After a networking event, you will have dozens of cards to take home and you will not remember everyone you talked to. You may have even promised to follow-up with a lead, introduce someone, or set a future coffee or lunch meeting. Take good notes after you speak to each person. That way you will go home later that night and remember who you need to introduce John to, or see the card months later and still remember what services Jane offered.

5.) Follow-up and stay in contact

Follow-up with every person you meet at an event, or the key contacts you feel you will have a mutually beneficially partnership with. Then stay in touch with each person to build and maintain that professional relationship. With time, some people will drop off your radar or you may never hear back from them again. Don't take it personally. You WILL be left with a handful of key contacts who continue to stay in touch.

Thanks to the networking event you attended, you now gained additional professional contacts who you can help, and who can help you. Try these 5 business event networking tips to become a stronger, more well-connected member of your business community.

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