You now know some tips for preparing for networking events. Here is some advice on what to do during the event.
- Get the lay of the land. Scan the room to see how the event flows (food, drinks, speaker, etc.) to determine where you want to be and sit.
- Seek out the leaders. Find the president, event chair or a board member and introduce yourself. Ask for help getting introduced. Saying, “I’m new here,” makes people want to reach out to you.
- Study badges. Ask about someone’s badge, especially if the attendee’s badge has a special ribbon or pin designating his or her involvement in the group.
- Be friendly. Get in the drink line and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Approach someone who’s standing alone. That person may end up being the best contact you meet.
- Be curious. Ask an introductory question about a person’s company or title. “Tell me about [company name]. What is your role there?”
- Don’t sell too hard. Describe what you do and how it helps your customers, then back off.
- Listen more than you speak. Focus on the person you’re conversing with, not on your sales pitch. Ask good questions and be a great listener.
- Be prepared. Carry your business cards in your pocket or a case you can easily and smoothly reach.
- Keep moving. To disengage from someone, politely excuse yourself by saying, “I just saw someone come in I need to connect with. It was great meeting you.”
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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing, a consulting firm in Cleveland, that provides marketing strategy and creative services to business-to-business and consumer marketers. Fianfagna has been creating and implementing marketing communications plans and programs for more than 30 years. Read her blog for more marketing tips at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.