At the latest networking event EventCompass attended, a group of us were standing there with champagne in hand joking that it just such such hard work dancing to great music while getting to know passionate creative people. It does not seem like work, until hours after the event when you start replaying those precious hours in your head, trying to justify why you attended the networking event instead of tackling a much needed business chore (for me, it's those pesky invoices, but more on that in a future post). You attend networking events to improve your business, and your time at these events should leverage similar results to the time you spend planning an event--in short, networking needs to lead to making money. It's the ugly truth behind networking events: they are fun and entertaining, but we are all there to meet people who will help us make more money.
The good news is that it's not that complicated. According to Bethany Smith from the Event Manager Blog there are really only four necessary skills to make the most of your time at networking events:
Planners end up having to make huge requests of vendors and sponsors, so building and maintaining a useful network is one of the most important things an eventprof can do. Your network is where you will head for new ideas and inspiration, in addition to being a resource pool for vendors, sponsors and talent. Having a network that is both deep and robust – that is, full of people from various industries and levels of power that you can call on – is a great way to extend the social capital for your client or event. And though important, networking doesn’t have to be hard, OR overly time consuming. Here are 4 extremely simple, but extremely useful networking hacks for event planners.
1. Think Again
The first (and cheapest) way to elevate your network is to change how you think about it – easy, right? Most people “network” by trying to figure out who will be the most useful addition to their circle. Instead, think about about whose circle you, yourself would be the most useful in. This may seem counterproductive, but the truth is, you should never approach a person with the intention of asking them for anything outright. Everyone you meet starts out as a stranger, and don’t you just hate when strangers ask you for stuff?
Pro Tip: Toe the line of being intentional about who you want to connect with, and offering value by following the “give, give, give, ask” model. In other words, offer value 3 times before making an ask of someone.
2. Leverage Leadership
The internet is an amazing place. Nearly any piece of information you could want, is available for you to have – including the contact information of industry thought leaders. Take a moment to really determine what that means. Your network has the potential to expand as far as your mouse and keyboard will allow.
Perusing industry blogs is beneficial to you as a planner in more ways than one. In addition to keeping abreast of new trends, each article you read contains a contact along with all that amazing information. There is nothing more ingenious than getting 2 things for the price of 1.
Pro Tip: Find a blog post or some other form of relevant content online that resonates with you, and reach out to the person who wrote it via their email or social media. Remember to give before you ask.
Click here to continue reading about the two remaining must-have network skills. For other networking tips, please check out our post on how to network when you don't know a soul! We also have numerous posts discussing converting leads, growing your client base, and tips to improve your overall business!
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