Top 8 Networking Tips
By Mary Hanula
When it comes to networking at large events, such as IFA’s Annual Convention, it's easy to feel intimidated or overwhelmed. With 50+ sessions and nearly 4,000 people, it can feel like a lot of pressure figuring out how to establish an authentic connection with a stranger. That’s why we came up with the top eight tips for networking at large events, so you’ll arrive with the best practices in business and introductions.
Here are our top eight tips for networking at a large event:
- Have your business cards handy.
Always, always, always have a business card ready to hand out. Make your card includes your most up to date information so they know how to get in touch. Jot down a small detail about them on their card so you remember them more quickly.
- Attend the networking receptions.
This may seem obvious, but the receptions are there for a reason. These events are specifically designed to get the conversations flowing in a relaxed environment, where you will be surrounded by people who have the same motive. Your biggest chance for success in increasing your contacts lies in the networking receptions!
- Remember that there is no script to follow.
Yes, you should have aspects of what you do and which business you do it for as a staple conversation piece. But if the conversation goes in another direction, let it. If you force yourself to stick to certain topics or phrases, it may be harder to establish authentic connections and network as widely. Don’t set the bar so high that you aren’t able to reach it.
- Be realistic and be kind.
Not only to others, but to yourself. When networking at large events, it can be easy to spread yourself too thin. So many people, conversations, businesses, details and more. Sometimes, if you set a goal of speaking to too many people, the quality of the conversations is worse off because you felt the need to cut them short. If you’re networking with someone and feel an odd pressure to stop a good conversation to “make quota,” remind yourself that it is about authenticity, not numbers.
No one’s born knowing how to approach strangers or start conversations. If you’re nervous about it, then that most likely just means you’re eager to make a good (and lasting!) impression. As noted, do not write yourself a robotic script. Just have some key talking points in your back pocket that would serve to expand a conversation or introduction. It could even be a few buzzwords — whatever works best!
- Be present.
This one is really, really important. Have you ever been talking to someone who seems half-there, or who has their eyes on their phone? It makes you feel like what you’re saying to them is not important, let alone valued. Treat people how you want to be treated. Remember to maintain eye contact and truly listen. When you’re giving someone your full attention, they will notice and know that you both feel the conversation is important.
- Dress appropriately.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. If it is a big networking event with potential business partners, then you should dress in business clothes or business casual. If you’re not sure what the attire is, the event info should have it noted. When you look good, you feel good. Others will notice that too.
- Note to self.
With so many different things going on during a big networking event, it doesn’t hurt to jot down a few notes about what you experienced, who you chatted with and reflections on what worked and what didn’t. In the future, you’ll thank yourself for having something to reference once all the action dies down. If it’s important — make a note of it.
Even if it’s your tenth conference, or maybe even your first, these tips are designed to help you feel more ready for creating authentic connections with people who are just as excited as you. So, what are you waiting for? Go network!