Networking events can be very valuable if you know how to take advantage of the opportunities there. Many people go to networking events and never truly make any connections with people there for the sole purpose of networking. Simply put, If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so let’s plan to succeed!
When a networking event is on your agenda it is very important to follow through with a few simple steps.
First you should establish some type of goals for the event. When you have specific goals then you won’t gravitate to the people you already know but you will make valuable connections. Don’t be vague in your goals; make them specific so you can get them accomplished.
Next you should identify your targets because they will help you reach the goals you have set for yourself. You can simply make a list of who you want to connect with during the event to avoid wasting time in areas that you do not need to network. When you identify your targets then you should research them, follow their tweets and read their blogs just to be knowledgeable about who you are networking with. Now use an event card to mark off successful connections. This is a very good way to organize the contact info of those you network with and mark them off as you meet them. On this card include a name, photo, and a thought you had after reading the particular targets blog or tweets. This can also be done on your smart phone if you do not want to use cards.
It’s now time to establish yourself as a worthwhile connection to your target. Show your target you are worth knowing. Establish your presence with a friendly conversation and an effort to listen to them so they won’t remember you as being obnoxious.
Lastly, follow up with your targets. No matter how much research you did on your target or how great the conversation was you must follow-up. It’s a good rule to follow up within 3 days of meeting. Send a simple e-mail reminding them of the conversation you had with them or just briefly saying hello, but do not forget to follow-up. You never know, one of these targets could potentially offer you a job or another valuable connection for you!