You’ve probably heard this countless times, but networking is an integral part of being an entrepreneur. Forming relationships at networking events can lead to business opportunities, contracts, valuable lessons, and more.
Having a network that you can tap into is vital as an entrepreneur: whether you’re looking for advice, mentorship, new talent or services. One of the best ways of forming a network for yourself is attending networking events. While it may seem like you can just turn up and speak to people, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you’re making the most out of these opportunities.
Where to Find Networking Events
Depending on your field, large corporations, consultancies, banks and events firms will host a large variety of networking events. A good way to find the right one for you is through LinkedIn, or business associations’ websites and emails.
Don’t go to every single event you can find for the sake of it: focus on the ones that are most relevant to you, and prepare well using our eight tips below.
Tips for Your Next Networking Events
1. Define your intention.
What are you trying to get out of this event? Are you there to make connections? Find a work opportunity? Pitch your project? Whatever your goal is, keep it at the front of your mind during the event. It will help you make the right connections, and stay on track.
2. Dress appropriately.
Try to find out ahead of the event if there is a specific dress code. Take into account the venue, the organisers, who the event is for, etc. Don’t come underdressed, but don’t overdo it either – you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons! Generally, a smart casual outfit such as trousers and a shirt or a nice dress will do just fine.
3. Have an elevator pitch ready.
Right now, you can probably give a decent answer to the question “What do you do?”. But does your answer draw people in? Does it make people want to know you, and find out more? If not, write yourself an elevator pitch. A two-three sentence, thirty seconds long summary of your ventures that will lure people in and make them want to get to know you. Memorise it and be ready to deliver it (naturally) at networking events.
4. Bring business cards.
And if you don’t have any, there’s no better time to get some done than before networking events! You will probably be meeting more people than you can remember. Collecting business cards and giving yours away is a great way to ensure you keep in touch after the event.
5. Prepare questions.
One way to stand out from the crowd and form meaningful relationships is preparing insightful questions to ask your peers at networking events. As well as the usual how are you, what do you do, and what did you study, think of original, deep questions to ask. We’ve rounded up a few below to get you started:
- Why are you at this event?
- How did you get into your field?
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- What are your biggest life goals?
- How can I be useful to you?
- What is your favourite part of the job?
- What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
6. Don’t back away from small talk!
Although it might seem like a tedious, unnecessary part of networking events, small talk can be useful. You could actually find out a great deal about your peers and their interests through chitchat. What they’ve been up to, where they’ve come from, what they do outside of work can be very insightful and help you bond with people.
Obviously, networking events are all about getting yourself out there. However, they’re also about meeting new and interesting people and forming meaningful relationships. Conversations are a two-way street, and people will enjoy talking to you a lot more if you’re interested in what they have to say and listen as well as speak.
8. Follow up.
After networking events, it’s easy to move on and forget about it – but that would be a waste of opportunity! Make sure to follow up with the people you’ve met, especially the ones who you could work with. Send them a LinkedIn invitation with a personalised message, and arrange for a catch up call/meeting in due course.
Networking events with like-minded people are just one of the many resources our EWOR programmes offer. Find out more about these opportunities and how to apply here!
If you’re after more educational insights and resources, our blog contains plenty of useful reads and insights from seasoned entrepreneurs.
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