The thought of doing your first networking event can be daunting, especially if you’re the one hosting it. But, it doesn’t have to be. Networking is no more frightening than anything else to do with business and it’s one of the best things you can do to bring your business forward. So, what do you need for a successful first networking event?
The first thing you need to do is make a great first impression. Don’t worry, you can’t win them all over, but the majority of business owners or representatives that you meet will be friendly. It’s just like working the room at a party. Introduce yourself, talk about your business and try to connect on something outside of work too. Many business relationships are built on things nothing to do with business. For example, the two owners may be golf enthusiasts or opera lovers.
Do Your Homework
It’s important to know who’s planning on attending your event. That way, you can do some research into the businesses and the people. Sure, you can pass out business cards as you meet people, but most of those cards will never see the light of day. Try and make yourself memorable. The only way you can do that is to find out as much information as you can before the event. It’s not the card a person will remember, it’s you.
It’s you they’ll remember, but they’ll need your contact details handy when they do. At your first event, make sure you have plenty of gift promotions to tempt others with. It could be anything from handing someone a promotional pen when they need one to giving out umbrellas on a rainy day. If a business owner has children, they may want to take home balloons or cupcakes. There are lots of ways to think outside the box when it comes to spreading the word about your business.
What do you want to achieve at this event? Do you want to make at least ten new connections? Do you want to set up a meeting with someone specific? It’s important to know your goals before the event so you can remind yourself what you want out of it while you’re there. However, be realistic about your goals. Not everyone you meet at your networking event will be valuable to your business and not everyone that is valuable to your business will follow through. If you can make a good connection with a handful of professionals at your first event, that’s a successful day.
One of the most important factors with networking is following up after the event. You’ll meet a lot of new people and receive a lot of new information but none of it matters if you don’t act on it. Wait an appropriate amount of time and then try to arrange meetings or send a friendly email to offer some business services. Get the ball rolling.
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