Easy-to-Follow Strategies for Successful Networking at Events
The step-by-step guide to grow your confidence. Learn the easy-to-follow strategies for successful networking at events―virtual or face-to-face.
The step-by-step guide to up your networking game at virtual and face-to-face events
Networking events can be so powerful for making new connections, collecting perfect-fit leads and finding long term business partners.
But for many business owners attending networking events―virtual or face-to-face―can feel nothing but overwhelming.
What if nobody speaks to me?
How do I explain what I do?
What options are there for me as an introvert?
These are only some of the questions and doubts that can often come up before an event.
But with the right preparation and attitude, networking events can become your most successful business tool in the long run.
What follows next is a step-by-step guide to turn both virtual and face-to-face events into a fabulous lead-generating and connection-making tool for your business.
Before the networking event:
Whether you’re attending a virtual conference or have locked in your first face-to-face event since COVID-19 hit, it all starts with preparation.
Make sure you have the key ingredients for a successful event ready so you can map out the strategy that will help you reach your goal.
Begin with asking yourself the following questions:
- What is my goal for this event?
- Why is it worth attending?
- Who is the top connection I want to make?
- How many people can I realistically connect with in genuine conversations?
- Is there a way to find out who’s attending so I can research the connections I want to make?
- What are some relevant questions I can bring up with others during this event?
Now let’s work on your elevator pitch:
For those who haven’t come across this expression, an elevator pitch is a short, to-the-point introduction that sets the scene for fellow attendees and showcases what you bring to the table (or Zoom room).
It’s handy to have yours ready to go so you can introduce yourself with confidence whenever you join a new group or chat with someone you haven’t met before.
(Need help polishing your pitch? Book your spot in our next Practice your Pitch Meet Up with Mums & Co Co-Founder Carrie Kwan)
On the day:
It’s the day of the event.
Time to put your nerves aside.
Embrace what’s ahead of you and set your mindset for open discussions and meeting new people.
Have the right attitude
Networking might be the part that most scares you about today, but don’t let that drag you down. Remind yourself what’s in it for you and what every new connection means for your business. Putting yourself out there takes courage, so spend the start of the day to reassure yourself that you’ve got this!
Spread the word
Share on your social media channels that you’ll be attending the event and use event-specific hashtags so fellow attendees can connect with you in advance. It’s a great way to get your face out there and can be a conversation starter for anyone who might spot you later on at the event.
Networking during virtual events:
Putting in the hard work during virtual events is extremely important because there’s no eye contact or random chats in the coffee line.
It’s easy to get lost among the many faceless online attendees unless you follow these strategies to help you stand out and make an impact (the right way).
Network during sessions
What might be frowned upon during face-to-face sessions is totally acceptable and encouraged at virtual events. Use the private messaging feature that most virtual event platforms offer to check out the attendees within your session and reach out to anyone you’d like to meet.
Great starting points are questions like:
- What do you think of this session?
- What made you attend?
Engage in Q&A sessions
Remember how we mentioned preparing relevant questions? This is when they come in handy.
Engage in the chat box during a session and ask any relevant questions that will add to the topic and discussion.
Use the virtual breakout rooms
Often during virtual conferences you get the chance to network in so-called breakout rooms. We encourage mingling in a few so you can chat with fellow attendees within smaller group settings. But don’t settle on just one room, because you never know who might be waiting in the next one.
Networking during face-to-face events:
For many of us, the sheer thought of face-to-face events can cause anxiety.
Here is how we like to tackle networking at face-to-face events.
This section is particularly important for those introverts among us. We know you can do it!
Listen well and give room to speak
Networking doesn’t equal screaming for attention as loudly as you can. Far from it!
It’s a winning combination of adding to the conversation in the right moments and listening well when you’re not speaking. It’s not about dominating a conversation, but sparking an interest in what you do and what you have to say. Follow up with a specific question that digs deeper to show that you’re listening and interested. The rest will follow.
Be confident and ready to shine
You’re at the event for a reason: Because you have valuable opinions and skills to offer. So believe in yourself and share your genius!
Share your achievements and what you have to bring to the table. This is your moment to shine so you can leave a lasting impression!
Have your products won any awards? Proudly mention them.
Have you collaborated with noteworthy brands? Now’s the time to drop names.
Authenticity connects you with the right people for you. Don’t try to impress those you won’t click with anyway and focus on people you are drawn to for the right reasons. Because they seem to be interested in what you have to say. We all have a story worth sharing, so do it with pride!
Sit next to someone you don’t know
It might be awkward to begin with, but taking a seat next to someone who’s attending by themselves (possibly just like you) can be the icebreaker this someone has been waiting for all day. It’ll open up conversations and could lead to an exchange that will benefit both of you long term.
Use their name
Are you bad with names? This is an instance where you want to make a conscious effort to remember someone’s name. It shows that you’ve listened and adds a personal touch, especially when you’ve only just met.
One of many handy tricks to make remembering new names easier is building a mental bridge when you first hear a name. Listen intently to their introduction and then link their name to something memorably within that introduction. We’re talking Lauren from Leichhardt or Peter from Product Management.
Bring a wing womxn
If you struggle to step out of your comfort zone by yourself, why not build up your confidence and bring a friend. It makes conversations that little bit easier and could just be what you need to feel more relaxed and ready to mingle.
Take samples with you
If you’re a product-based business, face-to-face networking events can be the perfect opportunity to share samples of your product with new connections. It makes your business instantly more tangible and could lead to a long lineup of new customers along the way.
After the event:
You might think all the work is done once you’ve left that Zoom session or are back in the comfort of your home.
Far from it.
Follow up with any new connections
Strengthen your relationship with those you’ve just made by connecting on Social Media. Send them a non-salesy message to keep the momentum going and engage straight after the event. If you see opportunities to collaborate, connect on a deeper level before firing off a sales pitch. Because nobody likes to feel ‘sold to’ on the first business date!
Feel ready to put this step-by-step guide into action?
Check out Be MPowered, the conference designed for all women at any stage of business or motherhood. With the perfect mix of virtual and real-life elements, this year’s new COVID-safe and school-hour-friendly format is the perfect way to up your networking game in 2021.