Getting maximum benefit from your networking event experience
In a previous blog we looked at how to host a successful networking event. This time we are looking at how to maximise your results when you are attending an event as a guest.
Conferences and industry networking events offer valuable opportunities for building professional relationships. Spending time with industry peers and gaining insight from leaders in the sector is important for expanding your networks and building new partnerships.
While networking in a group of strangers can seem daunting, it can help further your career and boost your profits. Event schedules are usually busy so it’s best to approach conferences with a plan and keep a few things in mind throughout.
1. Plan and maximise your time
Identify the people you’d like to meet before you arrive by looking through the speaker roster. Social media can also be a helpful tool to identify the influencers with whom you’d like to connect; look for the event hashtag and see who is leading the conversation online.
It is important to remember that most of the other attendees are also looking for networking opportunities, so don’t be shy. Get in contact with your target attendees ahead of time to suggest catching up for a coffee between sessions. Attending the presentations of speakers you’d like to meet also offers an opportunity to connect afterward. And be prepared to jot down a few notes during each session or meeting. It will prove to that person you were really paying attention and make any follow up you do much more meaningful.
2. Get social!
Being active on social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and any other tools popular in your industry – helps build your conference network by making your attendance at the event visible to others. It can be an excellent tool to introduce yourself to those you’d like to meet and to be seen leading the conversation.
It’s also a good idea to use official conference hashtags which increase the likelihood that your tweet or post will be seen by other attendees and shared by organisers.
3. What value can you add?
Networking is a two-way street that should benefit both parties. Don’t head into a conference thinking solely of what you can gain and what your new connections will be able to do for you. Asking for favours and endorsements without adding you own value will quickly see your new contacts walk away.
If you’re asking for an introduction or for the valuable time of an industry leader, make sure you can offer something in return, whether that be a unique insight or position on a certain topic, an introduction you may be able to make for them, or a professional skill from which they could benefit. This value add is usually the best reason to follow-up post conference.
4. Be your own brand ambassador
You’re representing your company, so make sure you can talk about what you do confidently. If you work for a smaller or lesser known company, be able to describe the company, what it does, its unique selling points and your role within it. Know who you customers are, who your partners are, and the primary challenges and opportunities for your business in the year ahead.
5. Follow up
This is perhaps the most important steps in networking, which too few people remember. Following up after the conference or industry event turns the people you’ve met into meaningful contacts and, ideally, ongoing and mutually beneficial relationships.
Send a personalised note to important contacts within one week of the event either on email or LinkedIn, depending on which is most appropriate for your industry. Thank them for their time, remind them of the reciprocal value you can offer, and invite them for coffee.
Looking at holding a network event of your own? Race Party, located in Hawthorn East, is the perfect location for a networking event with a difference. A classy and highly adaptable venue with a layout that can be tailored for groups from 10 to 100. The common open area is furnished with cocktail lounge seating with high stools and tables, mobile bar stations to serve drinks in many locations and audio-visual options including microphones and smart televisions throughout the venue.
The gem in the Race Party experience however is the two 40-meter, eight lane slot car race tracks. With fun and excitement, guests speed through a number of race series, constantly changing places and interacting with each other as they drive, marshal cars and enjoy the food and beverages on offer. A fully hosted attraction with staff commentating and controlling the action, it provides the perfect platform to create new contacts.
To find out more or to book your next networking event, call us on (03) 9882 1391.