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How to Network at Events: A Quick Guide

November 09, 20235 min read

How to Network at Events: A Quick Guide

Leah Busque's journey with TaskRabbit isn't just about a disruptive business model or entrepreneurial brilliance; it's a testament to the transformative power of networking at events. In 2009, Leah found herself at a Women 2.0 networking event, where Scott Griffith, the then CEO of Zipcar, was a speaker. She knew that she needed to meet him, however, she never imagined that her chat with Scott would pave the way for her “RunMyErrand” idea to become a household name. In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, networking is the single most powerful method of building a business. Why? Because at the heart of every successful business are relationships. There are people you are intented to meet and relationships that God will guide you in nurturing. Business is relationships—period.

As a Christian entrepreneur, it's not just about what you know, but who you know and how you connect with them. It’s about the way we allow God to shine through us. This article aims to equip you with strategies to make the most of the next event you find yourself at, ensuring that every handshake, every exchange, and every moment can be as impactful as Leah's pivotal encounter.

But when you get in a crowded room with all the buzz and excitement, maybe you start to get nervous. You spot a potential client or perhaps a future employer and you freeze, unsure how to act.

This is common among many business owners and a reminder that networking is as much a science as an art. In our interconnected world, the ability to form and nurture professional relationships is invaluable. This guide offers a roadmap on how to network at events with confidence and strategy.

1. Preparation Before the Event

Researching the Event

Before diving into the sea of attendees, equip yourself with knowledge. Understand the type of event, its main attendees, and key speakers. By tailoring your approach based on this information, you can navigate the event with purpose.

Setting Goals

Ask yourself, "What do I want to achieve?" Whether you aim to meet potential clients, learn about industry trends, or both, setting clear objectives will guide your networking efforts.

Having a genuine (no salesy) elevator pitch

Imagine having only 30 seconds to leave an impression. But what if you also don’t want to come off as completely self serving and self centered. Your elevator pitch should encapsulate who you are, what you do, and what makes you unique but also create connection with others. Here’s what you need to know:

Should I take business cards and other professional materials?

In the digital age, sharing a business card might seem archaic, but it's a tangible reminder of your interaction. Whether you opt for a physical card or a digital counterpart, ensure it reflects your brand and is easy to share.

Using something live Canva can be helpful as well to add your QR code so that someone can quickly locate you on LinkedIn or save your contact to their phone. 

Dress Code

Appearance isn't everything, but it does matter. Dressing appropriately for the event communicates respect for the occasion and its attendees.

2. At The Event

Arrival and First Impressions

As the saying goes, "The early bird gets the worm." Arriving on time, or slightly early, offers a chance to familiarize yourself with the environment. This also allows for casual talk as you get coffee or even wait in the bathroom. Each interaction has the opportunity to create a connection and fun memory.

Ice-breakers and Initiating Conversations

Starting a conversation can be daunting. Simple questions like "Is this your first time attending?" or comments about the event can break the ice.

Here are some other ice breakers to consider:

  • What did you think of the last speaker's presentation?

  • What's been the highlight of the event for you so far?

  • Which session are you looking forward to the most today?

  • How did you first get involved in [industry/topic of the event?

Remember, the key to using ice breakers is to approach them with genuine interest and listen actively to the other person's response. This will naturally lead the conversation forward and help establish rapport.

Body Language and Non-Verbal Cues

Your words are just a fraction of the communication puzzle. Maintain eye contact, listen actively, and ensure your body language is open and receptive.

Building a Connection

Networking isn't about collecting contacts—it's about building relationships. Dive deeper into conversations, find common ground, and genuinely get to know the person you're speaking with.

Following the Agenda and Navigating the Event

With your goals in mind, prioritize sessions or booths that align with your objectives. Engage, participate, and immerse yourself.

3. Mastering the Follow-Up

Now that the event is over, you want to re-connect with those contacts that you connected with and would like to stay in contact. Here are a few things to keep in mind during and after the event that will help the follow up process go smoothly.

Collecting Contact Information

Gathering contacts is essential. Whether it's a business card, LinkedIn connection, or jotting down on your phone, ensure you can reconnect post-event.

Taking Notes

After conversing, jot down a few key points about the person and the conversation. These notes can personalize your follow-up later.

Timing of the Follow-Up

Methods of Follow-Up

Sending a personalized email or connecting on LinkedIn with a brief message can rekindle your initial interaction. Remember, the goal is to nurture and build upon the connection.

Staying in Touch

Networking doesn't end with the follow-up. Periodically check in, share relevant articles, or simply say hello. Keeping the relationship alive can lead to unforeseen opportunities.

4. Final Thoughts

Feeling a bit more ready on how to network at your next event? I hope this list of tips inspired you and that you are excited for the incredible opportunities that are just around the corner.

Remember, networking is a journey, not a destination. So, take the leap, attend that event, and put these strategies to the test. You never know where a simple "hello" can lead.

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