Are you a lazy event networker? Could your event networking use a kick in the kiester?
The most successful event networkers take the time to do one thing that most people don’t (that’s why they’re so successful). They take the time to identify several “target connections” they want to make at the event. (I know, it sounds a little cold to call them “targets.” Just work with me here, okay?)
They learn a little bit about those people before they go.
They take the time to personalize their event networking.
The Key to Successful Event Networking is Personalized Networking
- Visit any websites associated with the event to get a good idea of who will likely be attending. These will be folks like the current leadership group, past leaders, big donors (if a charity function), and speakers (to name a few).
- Make your target list of 5 to 10 people you want to meet and/or with whom you want to expand your relationship.
- Using LinkedIn, Facebook, their company’s website, do a bit of research about each person. Look for a few things that stand out as being most important to them; either personally or professionally.
- Contact anyone in your current network of friends and professional relationships who might be able to provide you with further insight into one or more people on your target list.
- Who do you know who might even provide an email introduction to one or more of your targets prior to the event? (BTW – This will almost guarantee a quality conversation with that person.)
- Develop a few questions and/or talking points for each person; so that you can engage in more relevant and meaningful conversation from the very start.
- Assuming you don’t have a photographic memory, write a few notes about each target on 3×5 card to refer to prior walking into the event and as needed during the event. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but PLEASE don’t pull out that person’s 3×5 card while you’re speaking with them. That would be just plain weird.
- Have a purpose and a goal for each conversation. While you can’t script how the conversation will go, you can certainly know what you want to learn, what you want to say, what outcome you hope to have – which is usually just earning the right to the next conversation.
- Look for ways to connect with your target in a way that goes beyond just business. See if you can learn some interesting facets of their personal life. Look for ways to follow with them on a personal level, not just professional (if possible).
- Never forget to follow up with everyone with whom you have a meaningful conversation. Maybe the “relationship magic” happens at the event, but the results are produced after the event.
I’m reading your mind right now… No! This will not come across like stalking to these folks; quite the opposite. They will be flattered and impressed that you took the time and care to personalize your approach to meeting them and getting to know them further.
What works best for you? How do you like to personalize your event networking?