For each event you attend you should have a strategy for building upon your overarching goals and objectives by setting goals and action points for each event.
The easiest way to start is to start by deciding what you need to achieve to make the attendance of the event worthwhile. This might by at the event or through the follow-up of the event.
For example your objectives might include:
- meeting or speaking to specific attendees at the event;
You should always be clear on who you want to talk to at an event and this should form part of your networking strategy – where possible ask for a list of attendees, and decide who on the list you think it would be most useful to talk to. If you have time you should also do a bit of research.
- distribution of business cards;
Handing out business cards should never be the sole purpose of your attendance at a networking event. Even at a hard networking event. However, it can form part of your strategy – when reviewing the list think about who you might want to exchange cards with (and think long-term – just because they are not a useful contact now – think about what potential there might be for the future while still being selective).
- key discussions with individuals regarding a service, product or you as an individual;
Think about what information you want to convey? Always keep in mind networking is not about selling, it’s about meeting people and building relationships so they will want to talk to you at a later date. However, it is useful to say enough to get the initial interest from a contact and to indicate to them, that you may be worth keeping in touch with or reaching out to.
- getting an introduction
If you are attending an event where the passing of referrals are an integral part of it think about what specific introductions you are looking for and be prepared to ask for them.
- learning more about a company or organisation.
Think about what information you want to go away with. What do you want to learn? However, remember be interested and enthusiastic, but always ask appropriate questions and refrain from bombarding people with questions – allow the conversation to flow.