Attending a networking event, especially if it is your first time, can be a little daunting. You may not know what to expect, who will be there and how you are going to feel. You imagine yourself to be a little fish in a very big pond. That’s understandable. However, attending conferences and events are the perfect chance to get your message out there. It’s a chance to communicate with like-minded individuals in the same field or industry. You can make new contacts and friends.
Networking isn’t always going to be on the top of your priority list when it comes to your small business. You want to make sales, you want to advertise. But networking at events can actually help you do that in a different way, while still gaining something from it. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you some of the sure-fire ways you can get you and your business noticed at your next networking event.
Let other things do the talking
Not many of us are confident enough to shout from the rooftops who we are and what we stand for. If this sounds like you then let other things do the talking. Try things like business cards or wearing a lanyard around your neck with your business or name on it. It can be the small things that make the biggest difference. You could even have a personalized notebook or file that you carry round with you. Handing out business cards can be a great conversation starter. Take advantage of the subtle advertising you can do for yourself. However, if you happen to be at this event for your business, and having a stall or pop up element to it, then you may want to think outside of the box if you don’t feel confident talking to people. A goody bag with a whole host of branded things in it, could be a great way to advertise your business such as USB Flash drives use NAND Chips, notebooks, pens etc., that are all branded with your business and logo.
There is no point in attending one of these events for networking purposes, if you don’t plan on speaking to anyone. It is a wasted opportunity. So, take a deep breath and communicate with people. Talk about who you are and why you are there. Opening up a conversation with someone could lead to further contacts or knowledge. You have no idea where that conversation could take you. One of the main reasons you have chosen to go is to learn something and connect, so make sure you do that by communicating.
Make eye contact
When someone is shy or perhaps out of their comfort zone, it’s easy to look away or down at the floor. Try and avoid that at all costs. Not making eye contact with people or the person you are talking to gives a totally different impression. You may appear rude or uninterested. Eye contact is important to show that you are listening. It can be a difficult skill to master. If you believe that you get socially awkward in these situations, prepare as much as you can in advance. Read articles on how to improve your confidence, or combat the anxiety. Maybe even practice before hand by attending another event that isn’t as important as this specific one, or just talking to people full stop at any given opportunity. You will see your confidence rise, and subsequently feel more comfortable with eye contact.
Engage with people
While you are at the event, engage with people as much as possible. Post to your social media and interact in person and through the mediums of online platforms. Engaging could be liking a photograph on their Instagram, or tweeting how you are at the event using a specific hashtag. As well as the old-fashioned way of engaging in a conversation and using eye contact which we have just covered. These things can really help boost your profile as well digitally, which is very important for your business moving forward.
Make yourself known to the important people
Finally, don’t be afraid to make yourself known to keynote speakers or session panelists. These people are experts in their field and will welcome questions as well as feedback. The more contacts you make with the right people, the better the experience you will have.
I hope that these tips will help you in the future when attending network events for your business.