Sun Tzu may have been talking about war, but his advice applies anywhere. Going into a networking event without sufficient planning is setting yourself up for an awkward experience with nothing to show from it. There are two steps involved in preparing yourself for your first networking event, and thankfully, they’re both pretty simple.
Know Your Enemies
They may not be your enemies, in fact they’re going to be your friends, but the people you will meet at the event will all have information you need to know. So you need to have a plan, a strategy that allows you to get as much of this information as possible. Write down a list of questions you want to ask beforehand, and carry that list with you at the event. Do you need to know everybody’s name and twitter handle, so you can contact them afterwards? Great, write it down. Do you need to find out the details of the next meeting? Excellent, put it on the list. The last thing you want is to be approached by someone and have absolutely no idea what to say.
What’s the point of networking if you don’t make yourself known? It’s vitally important to have a full understanding of your own business and what it can offer to others, so that you can effectively convey it to everyone else. Make notes on what you want to communicate to others, much in the same way you made notes about what you wanted to know about their businesses. Think about possible questions you could be asked and make sure you have answers prepared. You don’t want to be left stuttering like a stalled car. In addition, it’s always advisable to arm yourself with a large supply of business cards. Don’t let people forget about you!
By Lee Currie