I attended my first networking event of the year about three weeks ago. I registered for the event and tried to clear up my schedule to accommodate the time slot. The evening didn’t go exactly as planned. After attending the event I realized it would make an interesting blog post for those aspiring to “network” regularly. Here are some items that I will take into consideration forever.
1. Have your box of business cards handy: We have all been reminded that a business card is essential for networking purposes and that without a business card you haven’t conducted “true” business. I make a habit of carrying business cards in my car, wallet and also in the sleeve of my agenda book. What happens when the number of stashes you’ve carried are finished? You end up screwed on the night of an event. For some of you a box of 500-1000 is too much to carry but for others you may hand out those things every time you meet a new contact. (That’s Me, that’s frequently)
2. Clear your schedule. I’m a multi-tasker at heart but at times, travel time and distance can delay the list of things I try to accomplish. I worked my current day job in another part of the city until 5pm and thought that a 6:30pm start at the event gave me ample time to get changed and head downtown. IT WASN’T ENOUGH time!!! If job opportunities and connections are VERY important to you then clearing your schedule should be easy-breezy!
3. Know where to park. I would prefer to use “The Better Way” but had to drive! I arrived in the area and circled around a few times until I found a spot. What that means is more time away from where you’d like to be; at the networking event. Arriving early is fabulous but with such a busy day, parking can cause you to miss key attendees and the event altogether.
4. Engage followers and friends online. Don’t be afraid to use social media tools to announce or call out where you’ll be if you plan on attending an event. I tried it and it’s an amazing tool! Thanks to Twitter and Foursquare I located a few people who were attending as well. Shouting it out or posting on Twitter or Facebook functions as a pre-introduction before the introduction.
5. Talk to everyone. You never know who you’ll meet there. It’s a little daunting at first (for some) but once you’ve introduced yourself……the rest is history. Never underestimate who you’ll meet, what they do and how they can help. Me, personally, I take all business cards!!!! You can always pass it on!