You’ve arrived at your networking event, you’ve got your 30-second intro (or however long the event allows) is running through your head for that moment you have to introduce yourself. At some point, there is going to be ‘open networking’. This is your chance to make the most of being at the event and your moment to shine! You will most likely find that once you are up and running, conversations will flow but having a bank of useful questions will keep things moving. Here are some of my tried and tested favourites:
What brings you here?
Have you been to this event before?
Do you know many people here?
Are you a member? and if so How do you find the commitment/events/results?
What do you enjoy most about what they do?
How did you get into ….. ?
Remember that list of attendees I mentioned before? If you’ve pinpointed someone you definitely want to speak to then keep an eye on those name badges. I have found people quite flattered and ready to talk if you just go up to them, point at their badge, look them in the eye and say ‘Oh hi, I really wanted to speak to you if you have a moment?’
And, listen. At a networking event, you, of course, want to tell people about what you do and seek out potential opportunities but your best opportunities may not even be in the room. A good networker builds a rapport with others, you want them to feel comfortable telling you about their business without competing for the conversation. You want them to think of you if a referral comes their way.
Depending on the structure of the event, there may be the chance for one to one sessions after open networking or just be sure to follow up with new contacts via email, social media or a telephone call afterwards. It’s very unlikely you will walk out of a networking event with an armful of business but you should have a bag (or pocket) full of new contacts!
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