You were invited to a meeting with people who can influence your business. Great! Now what? What Kind of Meeting is it? Will there be an opportunity to mingle? Is it a lecture? Either way, it’s good to prepare.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
See if the guest list is published. If the invitation is sent through Meet-up or another online invitation service, RSVPs are sometimes visible. Take time to research the people who will be attending. Find out where they work and if they have any hobbies or charity causes. It may take some time, but it is worth it. It will help you narrow down the list of people you are interested in meeting. If the RSVP list is not visible, ask the host/hostess if there is someone you should meet.
AT THE MEETING OR EVENT
You will probably have some time before and after the meeting to mingle (or network) so get there early. If there is a talk, go meet the speaker afterward. Thank him or her first and tell them one thing they said that you liked. Then find the person who invited you. Thank them as well and tell them that you would be happy to attend more events. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching people, ask him or her for an introduction.
See if any of the people you researched are in attendance. Maybe you have mutual connections on LinkedIn or have worked for the same company. You can use this to meet him or her.
Say something like, “Hi John, I’m Sarah Smith from the marketing department at Acme Marketing. I wanted to introduce myself. I noticed that we both worked for Cisco.”
Perhaps a potential client enjoys golf, and you happen to love the sport. You can say something like, “I see that you play golf. My wife and I belong to Pine Ridge. Have you played there?”
If you share LinkedIn connections, you could say, “I notice we are both connected to Keith Thomas. He really gets around! Have you read his latest blog?”
Breaking into some of these groups can be difficult at first. If you connect with one person, consider the meeting a success. Set the goal to meet two people at the next meeting.
Always follow up with a thank-you email. They help people remember you.