It is 6pm at a technology trends conference. The attendees are a mix of entrepreneurs, service providers, recruiters and techies who have come to source for clients and hunt for jobs. Hannah is there to network. How does she do it in 10 steps?
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1. Don’t go in cold
A week before the event, Hannah researches the event online to get a sense of the audience. Are those C-level executives or entrepreneurs? Try to do a little research on the people you want to meet and use the information to break the ice with them. Try to know as much as you can before the event.
2. Travel light
Hannah decides to wear a blue blazer instead of the usual black. She chooses to stand out in the crowd with a safe color rather than bright colors. Also, she carries a leather portfolio with 2 pockets for easy access: One pocket for her namecards going out and the other pocket for namecards going in.
3. Walk the room
Powerful people come to these events to meet other skilled and talented people. Instead of acting desperate or appearing to be nonchalant, Hannah carries herself confidently, did not fold her arms and look like she is enjoying herself.
4. Finding out who’s who
To find out who is present at the event, Hannah decides to comb through the room once and scan the name tags on their blazers. This gives her an idea of who is in the room and she picks her targets to connect with.
5. Approach VIPs first
VIPs could be keynote speakers or shareholders of major companies sponsoring the event. Hannah decides to approach one of the VIPs a good 10 minutes before the first seminar begins. Keynote speakers are people who love to talk and can be great contacts, but they are easily swamped right after their talk, hence it is a good idea to approach them early at the event.
6. Spot the lone wolves
When the room is crowded, it is harder to integrate yourself into groups. Hannah decides to look for people who are standing alone. Individual contact is best as one-on-one makes for effective networking. Remember to put on a smile when approaching the other party.
Hannah spots a man standing near the cocktail bar and asks his connection to the event. The aim is to ask the other party about themselves so that you can connect to their interests. When asked about herself, Hannah introduced herself and says her name last so that the man will most likely remember it.
8. Card exchange
Hannah asks everyone she meets for their namecards before offering her own. It is less presumptuous that way.
9. Give and take
One of the entrepreneurs Hannah meets is keen to get in touch with a web services company. Hannah offers to link him up with a trusted business partner as a way of introduction. The aim is to try to always be a person who brings people together. This not only makes Hannah appears to be well-connected, the other party may feel obliged to help Hannah out in the future.
After 2 hours, Hannah has gathered more than 100 contacts. She leaves the event with plans to call the leads in the following week. Remember that you are not there to close a deal or hard-sell yourself, but to earn the right to follow up with a phone call or a meeting over coffee. Any contact who agrees to a future meeting is definitely worthwhile.
We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?
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