August 23 2013 by Bryson Forbes
I just spent the last hour making all the final arrangements for a quick trip my wife, her business partner and I are making Monday into Toronto. We are attending the Incentive Works conference and Monday night there is a networking event called Canada Rocks!
We have combined the trip into the "Tee-Dot" with a series of meetings in the afternoon. Sunday the kids are going to my Mother-in-laws place and Monday afternoon we are checking into Best Western Primrose. It's one of my favourite downtown spots and only a few blocks from the event. It just makes sense as opposed to making the hour drive back home after our bed times and a few cocktails while mingling.
I like networking events and have always been extroverted but I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. So here are 5 tips to make the most of this type of event:
- Shift your perspective - I always try to think about the fact that everyone at the event is in the same boat. They are there to meet people and hopefully leave with a solid lead or two. Instead of feeling anxious about striking up a conversation I believe I am doing the person a favour. It makes it way easier.
- Carry business cards - seems like a no brainer but I can't get over the number of people who attend a "networking event" and don't carry contact info.
- Work on your elevator pitch - you have to make an impression and get your unique selling proposition out clearly. But be succinct, if you start rambling your audience will gloss over and start looking over your shoulder for someone to save them. Don't be that person. Practice your pitch, make it entertaining and poignant
- Be memorable - my wife and her business partner bought these ridiculously nice business cards, they are literally velvet. Every person that is lucky enough to get one, comments and remembers. I was initially taken back because they were 4 times more expensive than mine but I can tell you now they are 10 times more effective and therefore a great bargain.
- Follow up - one thing I try to do, is write a note on the leads card while the conversation is still fresh - something to recall a highlight or two of our conversation. When you follow up with something personal like "How did your son's baseball tournament go?" it goes a long way.
Schmoozing is not for everyone but hopefully one of these tips will help next time you are at a conference! Do you have any other tips to add?