How to Meet People at a Networking Event
Do you need to increase your business? An easy way to do this is to meet people face-to-face. In English, it’s called networking. Networking events are a way to connect with a lot of businesspeople or clients in a short time. There are many groups you can join, such as Meetup, the local chamber of commerce, or a business group. See our blog on Where to Meet People for Business. Follow these tips and you’ll learn how to meet people at a networking event.
Find the Right Event
In the U.S., you can find an event almost every day of the week. Be selective and choose the ones that will help your business the most. If you are under 35 years old, look for an after-hours young professionals club. Attend a lot of functions for a few weeks, and then find the re-occurring ones you like the best. Many are free – or cost a little money.
Before the Event
See if the guest list is published. If it is, do some research and look for some things you may have in common. You may be able to find out where they work, the university they attended, their hobbies, or charity causes. You could also have mutual connections on LinkedIn. This information will help you decide who you want to meet as well as give you topics of conversation!
Make sure you pack enough business cards. You never want to run out.
How to Meet People at the Event
If you don’t have a company name badge (a pin with your name), get one when you arrive. Put it on the right side of your jacket, dress, or shirt. That way, when someone shakes your hand, their eyes go straight up your arm to your name. This trick is helpful in case you forget someone’s name.
Know Your Business
You should be able to describe who you are and what you do in a few sentences. Don’t waste time trying to explain your work. You can read more about this in our Writing an Elevator Pitch blog.
Approaching a Group
If you want to join a group of people, look at the position of their bodies. If there is an opening in the circle, join them! If it’s small and close together, move on. You can also look at their feet. If they are facing away from the group, it’s okay to approach. Once you’re in the group, don’t introduce yourself immediately. Listen to what they are talking about, and then see if you can add something to the conversation. If not, wait until they stop to introduce yourself.
Eat and Meet
Most networking events provide food. Fill your plate and find a table with an empty seat. It’s more relaxed and easier to talk when you have food in front of you. Another idea is to find an empty table. You will be surprised by how many people come to you.
It’s okay to be more casual at these events. You can say, “Hi. I’m Greg from Florida Flooring. Nice to meet you.” Make sure to look the person in the eye and shake their hand with a firm grip. Don’t squeeze or try to hurt them, but don’t give them a hand that is limp either. You want something in the middle. This is important for women as well. Read our Greetings post here.
Find a Network Buddy
Try to get friendly with someone who can walk around with you. It’s always easier when you aren’t alone. Try introducing each other to potential connections-it’s a lot less pressure. If you’re nervous or shy, remember that others feel the same way. Don’t worry about your accent. People enjoy meeting others from around the world. It can give you topics to discuss like how long you have been in the country, different business practices, or travel recommendations. There are many possibilities.
Be a Connector
Sometimes, the best way to connect is to be a connector. If you meet someone who is looking for an accountant, you can introduce them to yours. Take the person’s card and make a note on it, so you don’t forget. Then introduce them through email when you return to your office. Both people will remember you when they encounter someone looking for the service you provide.
This also works on a personal level. If you meet someone who collects antique cars, you can tell them about a car show they might enjoy. Think about how you can help someone, and they will do the same for you.
Don’t give away your business cards to everyone! You’re probably going to get a lot of cards you don’t want (and will probably throw them away!). Your business cards are valuable, so only give them to those who need what you offer. If they are happy with their provider, move on. If they are unhappy, give them one but don’t say anything negative about your competition. It could hurt you in the future.
Thank Your Host/Hostess
If there was a talk, thank the speaker afterward and tell them one thing they said that you liked. Then thank the person who invited you and let them know you would be happy to attend more events.
When you get back to your office, make notes on the business cards, and throw away the ones you don’t need. Send follow-up emails within a day or two, so the people you met don’t forget you. Remind them who you are and ask for a meeting, referral, or advice. For more tips, read our Business email etiquette blog.
This is also a good time to post on LinkedIn. Write a comment about the event and connect with the people you met. Make sure you send a personal note with any request.
Some people find networking events difficult, while others love them. Either way, they can be more enjoyable if you follow some of these tips. If you need to improve your English skills, find a teacher in our social forum.