In a world where we seem to document our every move online, it can be easy to assume that face-to-face business is falling behind the times. While the age of technology may have changed the way businesses operate, there’s no doubt that direct interaction at exhibitions and events is here to stay. Building genuine, authentic relationships is more important than ever - so it’s time to shake off those nerves and start networking.
Today, we’re taking a look at 5 top tips to follow for a successful networking event. Whether you’re an amateur in events or an established networker, our advice will help you to improve on effective prospecting and event marketing.
1. What do you want to achieve?
Nerves are natural - especially when you’re stepping out of your comfort zone - but failing to lead a confident conversation with potential clients could mean you miss out on maintaining a relationship in the future.
Curb your concerns by working out exactly what you’re looking to achieve in each networking opportunity. Are you intending on getting your brand noticed and achieving wider industry reach? Or are you pursuing a particular investor?Clearly plan out what your business aims are beforehand, so when you arrive, you can keep focused on your overall goals and make the most of the event.
2. Come prepared
For any event or exhibition, proper preparation will always pay off. From doing your research on any potential clients who will be attending to setting your phone to silent, appearing fully informed and professional will give off the right impression from the start.
Dress to impress and retain the image you’re trying to portray throughout your conversation - even when you’re speaking on more informal terms.
3. Engage and articulate
After all the effort that’s gone into planning to attend a networking event, don’t let nerves get the better of you when you arrive. Confidence is key, so make the effort to mingle with new faces and introduce yourself to those sitting on their own.
They’ll be just as nervous as you, so join up and present a united front when speaking with larger groups. Engage with everyone you meet and articulate exactly what your goals are. Your honesty and authenticity will help to build trust and relationships with others, and will instantly put you at ease.
4. Ask open-ended questions
Prepare yourself for awkward or uncomfortable conversations by avoiding questions that require a yes or no answer. Keep the conversation flowing and find out more about attendees with open-ended questions.
From businesses and industries to personal life and interests, there’s no set rule for what you should and shouldn’t discuss - so stay open minded and show potential clients that you’re interested in what they’ve got to say.
5. Dare to follow-up
Failing to follow-up after the event is a classic mistake to make, and it happens far too often in business. Once you’ve established a connection with a potential client, it’s time to nurture and maintain that relationship. Make sure you ask for business cards and contact details during the event.
These will prove to be invaluable in the future - and leaving an event with an armful of leads will give you plenty to keep you busy in the days that follow.
Networking doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Events and exhibitions are an opportunity to talk with like-minded business people and can be one of the most effective ways of building a client-base. Follow our top tips and you’ll be well on your way to successful prospecting in no time!
About the author
Siobhan Scott works as a Marketing Executive at shop4pop.com - part of the long established Simpson Group. Shop4pop specializes in web-to-print POP advertising for smaller businesses and creative agencies.