Live events bring together people with common interests and give everyone an incentive to interact. They are a great way to build both your personal and professional networks. If you’re willing to introduce yourself, then you have a good chance of making new friends or meeting potential business contacts.
Of course, getting the most from a live event takes more than showing up and saying, “Hello”. If you want to make an impression and build lasting connections, then you’ll need to put in some work. Here are few tips to ensure you make a positive impression that lasts beyond the event.
Make a Great Impression at a Networking Event
1. Be prepared
An event may be your first or only chance to connect with potential customers, employers or new friends. Take the time to review information about attendees and topics being discussed before you arrive. If you’re not familiar with the topic then you can prepare by attending a webinar or using a mobile learning tool for research.
Preparation also means have the right look and supplies for the event. Make sure you’re dressed to impress, or at least fit in. Also, remember to bring plenty of business cards, pens, and something to write with. Practice introducing yourself so you are comfortable walking up to strangers and sharing your key information.
2. Show real interest in the people around you
The worst thing you can do at a live event is spend all your time talking about yourself. Make it a point to ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to what others have to say.
Making connections is about getting beyond the shallow conversation topics and engaging with what matters. The best way to do this is to offer a bit more about yourself at the start, then ask questions that give your conversation partner the same opportunity.
While a live event may be about business, you should make it a point to talk about things other than business. Share a story about your vacation, ask your new friend about their hobbies or suggest a good book to read in order to start building a real rapport.
Remember that your goal is to make a lasting impression and stand out in a person’s mind after the event. That means sharing more than your sales pitch.
3. Be a connector
Sometimes you, your business, or your goals don’t align with the people you’re meeting. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a connection. Remember that people often change jobs and even industries: someone you meet today could become a client, or an employer down the road.
If your interest and a new connections don’t align at that moment, then try helping them make another connection. This may be another person at the event or someone else you know. Offer introductions to other people at the event or referrals to people you think can help them. You’ll be remembered in a positive light and they may return the favor someday.
4. Keep conversations going
It’s important to keep the conversation going after the event is over. You don’t want your new friend or contact to forget about you.
Don’t be afraid to invite a new connection out for coffee, or invite them for a drink after the event is over. If you feel it’s too soon to ask for another face-to-face interaction, then make it a point to email them the next day.
The trick here is to reinforce the connection, but not be too aggressive. If you talked about doing business, then feel free to bring that up, but you might be better off mentioning the other topics you discussed.
When you make a good first impression at a live event, it will be beneficial to your business.