Networking events can be incredibly more productive for you if you just know what to do. I know, you are probably thinking “what is so hard about going to an event and handing out a bunch of business cards?” Well, there IS more to it than that. Below is a list of 7 things you must bring with you whenever you attend a networking event. Simple as they are, they all comprise a useful piece of your networking puzzle.
- Business Cards – Bring plenty, but remember, your goal is to get other cards to be able to follow up with those you meet.
- Name tag – Whether the event provides one, or you bring one, make sure to wear it, and wear it on your right side…that way, when you shake hands, the other person will be eye to eye with your name and business info. Some people think name tags are silly or superfluous. I guess they can remember everyone’s name the first time they meet them…I can’t.
- Timeliness – Get there early. If you know the event planner, or get a chance to meet them early on, perhaps you can help greet the guests…a fantastic way to get a chance to meet everyone who attends!
- A pen – Use it to jot down notes on the back of business cards you receive so you can remember important info about those folks you meet…referencing these key points when you follow up will help you score major points.
- Working Calendar – Blackberry, laptop, or just a day planner, this is a great tool so that you can schedule follow up one on one’s with those folks you meet.
- Mints or Gum – Not only will this tip ensure that the conversation lasts longer, you may just be a hero for someone else who is, shall we say, fresh breath challenged!
- Manners – Ok, this one sounds like a gimmee, but it’s not. In fact, I see people at just about every networking event I go to do SOMETHING stupid. Drinking too much, say rude things about another business professional (you never know who is listening and what their relationship is to the person in question) or just simply ignore or treat another professional with indifference. Anyone who thinks they are ABOVE everyone else in the room, doesn’t belong there. One thing to remember about manners: Say thank you. This means go and thank the host and/or the person who invited you. Thank the person who was working the door. Thank those who were helping/providing food and beverages. People remember this kind of polite gesture, because no one does it…
There you have it. Simple, but effective nonetheless. I am amazed at the number of people that simply forget to grab business cards before coming to an event. Worse yet are those folks whose breath nearly knocks you down when you talk to them. Pay attention to the simple stuff and you will reap the rewards of an effective networking presence.