The most important thing to take with me to a networking event, apart from myself and my confidence, is my business cards. That’s the one thing I can give folks or receive from folks that will help follow up later and build that business connection. A unique card is even better since it helps people set you part from the rest. The mini cards from moo are always a hit and a great conversation starter. Check them out here.
You don’t have to be at one of these mixers on the dot but do try to be there somewhat on time so you can make the most of connecting with folks, getting to know how you can help and talking to them about where you need help. Have a little introduction ready that you can share should you decide to converse with someone, and maybe a few questions you’d like to ask them that will let you decide if this is a professional relationship you would like to pursue.
Always, always, always be helpful to folks at these mixers. Help others first instead of looking like all you are there for is to fill your own greedy cup. People will remember you for your useful inputs and that kindness will be returned to you on some later date. In fact, people love to connect with folks that are helpful and look forward to working with you when that opportunity arises. Give it a shot.
The first part of these events is usually signing up and getting yourself a name tag. If you can nix the name tag and use a name badge then you have already made an impression. Do I use one? No! So who am I to preach right? I have been thinking of investing in one though and find it a stand out moment when I do notice someone with their own name badge on. Besides there is no guarantee that name tag is going to stick on to whatever you are wearing all event long!
Definitely follow-up with folks after your networking event. You don’t need to follow-up with everyone. Surely there are some prospects that interest you more than others. You can reach out to them by email or phone and try to schedule a coffee meet if possible. For others you could send out a generic yet friendly email thanking them for speaking with you, and offering your assistance where possible.
I am no self-proclaimed queen of networking but I have learned a thing or two in the last few years that I have attended these mixers. I have almost always come away with at least one meaningful business relationship so I sure hope this works for you too.