You’ve arrived at the event, so let’s jump right in.
TOP TIP: Stand near the food and drink, it’s where the people are AND can be a great conversation starter. “Those little square things with the red stuff on top were delicious, did you try one?”
If you’re looking at your phone during an event, it’s a signal to people that you don’t want to be disturbed. Put your phone firmly in your pocket and try holding something else in your hand instead, like a drink.
Use your time wisely, you don’t want to get stuck in conversations that aren’t valuable or going anywhere. The thing is, the person you’re talking too probably feels the same way but doesn’t know how to end the conversation. Dissolve it elegantly. A trick I sometimes use is to look above their shoulder and wave at “someone” behind them, then I can say “Oh I’ve just need to go and speak to this guy, it was great to meet you” and leave. If you tell anyone I told you that, I’ll deny it!
Think of ways you can stand out. This could be something you wear - bright colours, a bow tie, a shirt with a slogan. Anything that can become a conversation starter.
Going to an event with someone can take a lot of the pressure out of networking. On the way to the event, discuss your goals for the event, who do you want to meet? This way you can introduce each other to the right people. Two people can cover more ground than one so your chances are higher. And your wingman can introduce you in much brighter light than you’d do for yourself. Make sure they know thing things you want to share. Finally, you can also help eachother out of awkward conversations, decide on an escape signal!
Active listening gives the other person a great feeling. A lot of the time in conversations rather than hearing what others are saying we focus on what we’re going to say next. Active listening focuses on what the person is saying to continue the conversation.
When the person has finished speaking, ask a follow up question based on what they’ve just said and keep doing this. More than anything, you’ll gather a load of information so when it’s your turn you can speak in the right context to them and make it super relevant.
Lastly, remember just because the events over doesn’t mean your job is done. Next week, we’ll go through how you can keep the conversation going.
After you’ve created a network and got the connections, what do you do with it?
Here’s a few tips for following up:
The day after the event is the BEST time to follow up.
Don’t wait 2 weeks, they’ll have forgotten who you are and where you met by then. It also shows how much you enjoyed meeting them and respect them when you’re quick to email.
You want to make sure you stand out so the other person will open your message. Try to be specific, relevant, and as different as you can be.
a subject line saying “Follow up” won’t make you stand out. Be more specific on the subject line like “Can I pick your brain out for 15 min?” or “Did you leave before the cupcakes?” or if you’ve talked about something specific (like dip) “Next time over Hummus?”
Try and give value by including something you spoke about when you met -If you talked about a specific startup include their website. If you mentioned an article, send them the link. You can even send a funny video related to something you spoke about! Stay on people’s minds.
I try and have one coffee meeting a month to stay in touch with people I don’t need right now but want to stay connected with. Choose how many to do based on your schedule.
There’s also social media. Like their stuff, comment on it, share it. Send them interesting content.
Finally, make sure you close the loop with anyone who introduced you to people - send a thank you and an update!
That’s it folks. You can take it from here. What have you got to lose?