After a long period of hibernation, networking events are back and back in a big way. Businesses denied the opportunity of making new connections face to face are keen to get their people, products and pitches back on the road.
Here’s how to make the most of each networking event you attend and feel comfortable sharing who you are, with anyone, wherever you go.
Research your event
It sounds obvious, but knowing who’s going to be speaking (and what they'll be speaking about), the other companies represented in the room and the event sponsors is a huge help when preparing to attend networking events. You’ll get a feel for who you might want to engage and where your own company fits within the broader topics being discussed.
Researching your event can also help you avoid any wardrobe faux pas. Have a quick look at images from the last event and get your dry cleaning sorted.
Looking for online tools to help you do some networking before you arrive? Here's our top business networking tools to get you event ready.
Know how to break the ice
This one takes practice and having a rehearsed list of easy to remember opening questions can really help you.
Try a simple relaxed ice breaker like “Hi, how was your day?” you’ll put the other person at ease straight away.
Another great way to break the ice is to add a talking point to your outfit. Brightly coloured ties, scarfs, glasses, even socks can invite a conversation. Why? It’s an easy and indirect way to start a conversation and it allows the other person to make a positive statement about something you’ve chosen to wear.
Prioritise asking questions and listening over selling
When talking with attendees, your aim is to find common ground and make yourself memorable. To do this you’re going to be looking for synergies and partnership opportunities - to discover what you will both benefit from.
Asking questions in the right way and practicing effective listening showcases your emotional intelligence skills. Not only that, listening is proven to make you appear more charming to others.
Your body language plays a really important role in the opening moments of a conversation. It helps to have an open torso, don’t clutch a drink to your chest or fold your arms. Point your toes and your head towards the person you’re speaking to. Non-verbal communication is a crucial enabler of conversation and also helps you “play the game” and follow the rules of conversation.
Create an atmosphere around you where people feel comfortable being themselves and opening up about the successes and difficulties they and their team are facing.
Treat event breaks like ad breaks
This one is quite tactical which is why I love it. During breaks, don’t succumb to the temptation to bow your head and check your phone. Turn to the person next to you and ask them what they’re doing for lunch or if they’d like to grab a coffee.
These moments are the perfect time to strike up a conversation and if you provoke them, more than likely the other person will follow your lead (plus they know there’s a time limit on how long you can both talk for!).
Know when to move on
As hard as it can be to strike up an interesting conversation, there is nothing more excruciating than being stuck in a conversational dead end.
We’ve all been there. You’re doing your best not to let your eyes glaze over or reach for another drink. They’re about to rehash that same anecdote for a third time, it’s time to call it.
As much as you’d like to prod your fellow attendee with your cake fork, you really shouldn’t.
End each conversation in a friendly non-abrupt way. Don’t make it feel like you’re brushing them off, exchange your contact details and retire with “it was really nice to meet you, I hope we can connect again”.
Take advantage of apps
When networking, technology is your friend. Not just for sharing your professional identity but for logging your contacts, making notes about who you met and creating a platform for further contact.
There is no better way to do this than with Blinq digital business cards. With Blinq you can share your business cards in a way that works for you. You can share via the top rated iOS or Android apps, smartphone widgets or even via your Apple Watch.
You can also add notes to each new contact you create inside the app itself. No more scrambling for a pen to make illegible scribblings in the margins of a brochure.
Speaking of bits of paper you’ll never look at again, did you know that nearly 90% of paper business cards are thrown away in under a week after being shared. By switching to digital business cards you’re not only removing hassle from your networking experience, you’re also keeping a heap of waste out of landfill and trees in the ground.
Blinq digital business cards are a positive reflection on your business and a brilliant extension of your brand experience, helping you stand out and be memorable in moments that matter.
Grow your network and your business with Blinq.
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