Networking has been on my brain lately with a guest post on Roooar about it, setting a date for my own catch up with business peeps I like to call my Inner Circle, planning a networking/fundraising evening for a social enterprise I adore and being invited to a whole bunch of different networking events in the coming months.
I get a lot of people asking me for advice about networking events and one of the biggest concerns for people is feeling unprepared, especially if there is potential business on the line. So, I've put together a list of things that you should bring to every networking event you ever attend. With these six beauties you will be ready for anything!
1. Business Cards
Like duh. But you know what? I've forgotten them once or twice in those oh-my-god-I'm-still-feeding-the-baby-and-I-should-have-left-ten-minutes-ago-where-are-my-shoes moments! Invest in a slimline business card holder and keep it in your handbag or jacket pocket at all times.
2. Elevator Pitch
Don't get stuck giving the long winded version of you and your business when somebody asks, "So, what do you do?". Practice a short, sharp and engaging statement that you can pull out any time, any where and impress.
Awkward silences are just a bit... awkward. Some people feel quite comfortable speaking to complete strangers, while others can find it difficult. Whatever category you fit into, arm yourself with some open ended questions where you would genuinely like to know the answers. Conversations don't always flow and that's ok, at least you tried!
4. A Pen and Small Notepad
Do you ever get back from events and look at your business cards trying desperately to remember what each person talked about? Take a pen with you and write bullet points on the back of their business card like things you had in common, contacts you can pass onto them, ways you can collaborate, what you talked about and what their business involves. A small notepad is great too when you want to write a bit more info.
5. Charged Mobile Phone
This is a must. Apart from the usual benefit of being able to call your best friend in desperation when you don't know anyone and you feel totally self-conscious standing there on your own (just me?!), mobiles are great for taking notes, numbers and lots of pictures for things like your Facebook page or blog posts.
Find out the hash tag of the event and pop up a couple of pics of the event of the set up, the speaker or with the people you are hanging out with. We communicate over social media so much these days that it can be a nice way to create and strengthen relationships.
6. Your Favourite Lippy...
...Or your favourite whatever makes you feel like a million bucks. Walking into an event feeling confident can make a huge difference to how your night goes so do what you need to feel great!.