We’ve talked volumes about planning networking events and providing the best to our attendees, yet we’ve never really discussed the guest experience itself, nor have we tried to provide information about the necessary social tools guests can use to advance their networking game.
Today, we want to change that and dedicate this article to networking attendees.
So if you’re an event professional or you’ll be planning a networking session, you can help your attendees connect better by sending them this article.
Conferences, seminars, or even just networking events can become pivotal moments in your career and change the way you exchange ideas, favors, or value with other people.
From a handful of entrepreneurs to a room full of well-known industry experts, you’ll get to know many influential people and, hopefully, manage to build a long-lasting positive impression.
Considering the brief amount of time you have to interact one-on-one with the big names in your industry, this is not always easy. It becomes even more difficult if you want to create your own hub of influence over the industry and build strong business relationships at networking events.
However, nothing’s impossible when it comes to human interactions. Thus, becoming great at networking and strengthening your industry position by getting in touch with key names is a matter of practicing and applying the right interaction techniques.
To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a few steps that will help you boost your social skills and take over the networking event.
Step #1. Decide in advance who you want to meet at the event
Before attending a networking event (or an event that will offer you the possibility to network), there are two things to consider.
First, always remember that you’ll want to get a return on your investment (which, in this case, is your attendance fee). Second, you’ll need to do a little prep work and decide beforehand who you want to connect with at the event.
Doing your homework isn’t something you’ll want to take it lightly—your entire performance and networking efficiency during the event depends on your advance preparation.
Start with deciding which speakers you want to connect with and which attendees you want to talk to. To clarify this question, take one step back and understand what exactly you’re trying to find at the event.
Do you want to connect with business mentors or coaching clients? Do you want to identify some podcast or interview opportunities? Or maybe you’ll be out there hunting for investors?
Depending on your answers and goals, you’ll want to write down the names of the key stakeholders and experts you want to communicate with. Then, you must conduct an in-depth investigation of those people.
How do you do it?
It’s simple. Once you have a list of names (whether they are potential prospects, business gurus, or thought leaders), go to their social media accounts and blogs.
Check out their interests.
Know what type of content they’re creating. Read their articles or books. Be well-informed about the topics they like to explore. All this information will give you an in-depth understanding of the nature your conversations should take when you interact with them.
Step #2. Prepare great questions
Next, you should focus on identifying the questions you’ll want to ask during the networking event or session. What are your burning issues that you’d like to solve? What information or new insights would you like to uncover? What topics interest you the most, and whose expert opinion would you like to get?
You can start preparing your questions by knowing exactly what information you want to find. However, when interacting with other people and asking them those questions, it’s important to show you did your research.
In other words, you can’t just pop up with a question you could easily find the answer to on Google. So make sure you search for the answer yourself. If you can’t find it or can only find some scarce information about the topic of your interest, you can ask this question during the networking session.
It’ll show the person you’re speaking with that you know what you’re talking about and you did your research.
Step #3. Take advantage of the radar effect
One of the most powerful techniques that will help you “open the hearts” of the people you want to interact with during the networking session is by getting in touch with them long before the event itself.
You can do that easily via email or social media.
However, one thing to have in mind is that you can’t just send them a message showing your interest in talking to them at the event. You actually have to make an effort and provide them with some value.
For example, you could write them an email telling them about how much you appreciate their work and how they helped you overcome your struggles. If, for example, you’re talking to a business mentor whose online content helped you launch a successful business, you could write him or her about this, offering to give a video or written testimonial.
Once you’ve initiated contact, you could simply mention that you’ll also be at an event they’re attending and that you look forward to meeting them. This technique is getting you “on the radar” of the people you want to interact with and predispose them to a chat during the event.
They’ll already know who you are and be grateful for the value you’ve provided, and they’ll be more likely to talk to you, listen, and answer your questions.
Step #4. Craft multiple introductions
So you think you can approach everyone at the event with the same introduction? “Hi, my name is X and I’m doing Y.” Although having one personal introduction saves you time and effort, it’s not always beneficial.
The idea is that if you interact with an investor, you’ll want to introduce yourself as a businessman or businesswoman who has a prosperous endeavor. If you want to introduce yourself to the representative of an industry media platform, you’ll want to give the feeling that you have a lot of experience and you’ll be an interesting podcast or interview guest.
The thing you must remember is that your introduction should vary depending on the profile of the attendees or speakers you’ll talk to. In other words, you should plan different introductions that will appeal to different people.
Step #5. Come up with things to talk about
To make sure that the conversation between you and other attendees will keep going, make sure to prepare four or five relevant stories that happened in your life.
All stories lead to great conversations, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take a few minutes to think about some occurrences that might entertain and interest the people you’ll be networking with.
Remember that these stories have to be meaningful to other guests and well-contextualized.
The beauty of a networking event or session is that its success doesn’t depend only on the organizer. It’s the attendees who must do the heavy lifting, present themselves in the best light, and start building powerful business relationships.
That’s especially good because you, as an attendee, have total control over your experience and can greatly influence the outcomes.
So don’t worry: Start preparing before the event using these steps, and move confidently knowing that you can attract interesting people and build your hub of influence over the industry.