Friday, July 29, 2016

My 14 Step Practice for Making the Most Out of Networking Events

I’m looking to connect meaningfully with a handful of people (at most) at any networking event. Quality of conversations always matters to me more than quantity.  To this end, I’ve cultivated a 14-step practice for how to make the most of networking events. It’s outlined below.
  1. I assemble business cards and my name badge at home in advance of the event. My handwriting is atrocious so I’ve found this name badge serves me better. It also stands out in the sea of handwritten name tags. 
  2. I confirm the event location and determine how I’ll get there. I leave. 
  3. I arrive a few minutes before the event begins or at the start.
  4. I use the restroom. I wash my hands and face. 
  5. I check in at the registration desk. 
  6. I greet people as they enter the meeting room. The effort helps me to warm up for more intensive interactions likely to occur in the event space. 
  7. I walk the entire event space. I identify the location of food and/or drink. I note the placement of equipment for a presentation if there will be one. 
  8. I scan the crowd to see if I know anyone present. If I do, I head for that person to say hello. I’m quick to introduce people I know to each other. 
  9. I get a drink. If there’s a line (and there usually is), I speak with at least one person near me. I respond enthusiastically if someone else initiates. We exchange business cards.
  10. I continue to scan arrivals to see if I know anyone. I repeat the process outlined in step 8.
  11. When I see someone standing alone I reach out to begin a discussion. We exchange business cards. 
  12. If I’m alone, I head for the food table. As I wait in line, I make conversation with at least one person. We exchange business cards. 
  13. I reach out to the hosts to introduce myself and thank them before the event ends.  We exchange business cards. 
  14. I follow up with people I met at the event by email and/or invite them to connect with me on LinkedIn.  I set up a meeting with individuals I found especially interesting.
I’ve read many outstanding books on networking that have helped me.  I recommend works by Keith FerrazziAndrea Nierenberg, and Susan RoAne. They’ll  provide insight and inspiration for your future networking efforts. 

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