Networking is one of the critical skills you must have as a business owner. You can never make it on your own. You need partners, suppliers, associates and talents to employ in order to grow your business and develop innovative products and services.
So, what is a good way to expand your network and build meaningful relationships with them? One good way is by attending various events: congresses, business and technology conventions and fairs, product launches, and so on. These are great opportunities to meet new people in your niche, or in related niches, and discover new opportunities.
This being said, today we want to show you how to make the most of each event you attend. We will take you through the whole path, starting from the moment you receive the invitation.
1. After Registration for the Event
After you have registered as a participant, you should stop and think what exactly you want to achieve by attending it. Do you want to find a business partner, a supplier, a B2B client? Depending on your purpose, your approach and preparation for attending are different. However, no matter what type of marketing materials you want to carry with you, do not forget to bring at least 20 business cards with you.
Remember to visit the event web page once every few days and find out other notable participants, advertisers, organisers, etc. Look them up and find out at least a few basic details about them so that you have some common ground when you meet them and can strike up a conversation.
2. Before the Event
Prepare your briefcase carefully. You do not want to run out of leaflets or other marketing materials, but you do not want to be hampered and burdened by the case either. The next step is to prepare your introductory speech. You have people’s attention for around 20-30 seconds, so try to keep your introduction short and meaningful.
It is recommended to have a hearty meal before the event so that, when the speeches are over and people mingle in the hall, you do not waste precious time at the buffet table. Also, it is recommended to have your right hand free at all times to shake hands as you meet people, instead of having to juggle a full plate of food and your briefcase.
3. At the Event
Try to arrive early, when there is only a small group of people assembled. This gives you the opportunity to spot people you want to meet and introduce yourself before their attention is taken by other acquaintances.
As you stand at the registration table to receive your badge and marketing kit, take a look at the list of other participants and make a mental list of 5 or 6 people you wish to meet. If you happen to have common acquaintances attending the meeting, ask to be introduced. Personal reference is always better than simply walking up to someone.
Keep the number of interactions within a manageable level. You do not want to leave someone hanging in the middle of the conversation because you spotted someone whom you want to meet.
4. After the Event
Save all the details of the people you met in your address book and send an email to all of them. If you promised to send various presentation materials or other information, make sure that you do so within 24 hours after the event. Also, try to connect with them on the social media (preferably LinkedIn) as soon as possible and, if they are located close to you, schedule a one-on-one meeting for lunch and further discussions within the next two weeks.
With these simple tips, you will become a master at networking during business events and you will grow a large network of people who will help you grow your company and develop better and more innovative products.