How to Network Effectively at Professional Events

Network Effectively at Professional EventsNetworking is so necessary when building a business or staying in the loop so you can continue to succeed at work. It can be scary and intimidating to network at industry events or even at work especially when you are new to the company or the department.

I know some master networkers who seem to be able to go into any arena and come out with a slew of contacts and new “friends.” As a learning professional, I love to observe masters in action and here are some tips I have learned through observation and applying it myself when I attend professional events.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Learning to have an active curiosity about others-  their business, their goals, and their dreams.   When meeting someone new, really make an effort to understand them and how you can help them. Maybe you can introduce them to others in your network or make use of their services. The Law of Reciprocity is a powerful force.  When you help others, it will always come back to you someway, sometime, somehow. You’ll either be helped by them or someone else.

Use Your 2 Ears

You’ve probably heard in class as a kid that we all have 2 ears and one mouth.   In fact, my teacher friends have said they tell their students that we have two ears so we can listen twice as much as we speak. This is true not only for kids, but also for us as adults. Why have we forgotten this fact as adults? Maybe it’s because most love the sound of their own voice. And although I am sure you have a great voice, use it only half as much as the other person. You’ll see that if you exercise the skill of active listening, you’ll be better able to determine how you can help someone else. Plus when you speak, the other person is more likely to tune in when you do share your thoughts.

Give then Receive

Professional associations are always looking for people to step up and serve in some capacity. It’s my experience that when you volunteer alongside others, a unique and meaningful bond develops. When you serve, the association will most likely recognize you for your contributions on their website, in other materials, and at events. You’ll have more exposure to those outside the regular network. Plus people like people who give. As you do so, you’ll find that you’ll receive more support and publicity (in a good way) for yourself and your company.

Follow Through and Follow Up

After you’ve made new connections whether it’s at that professional event or through volunteer work, make sure you follow up. If you tell someone you’ll send them information or that you’ll connect them to some key folks you know, don’t delay. The sooner you follow up, the better. It shows that you value them and the connection you made when you do so. I know I always remember those who are “doers” rather than “sayers.” (FYI- sayers aka flakes)

Stay Awake

When you’re at the event, be fully present.  Pay attention to the speakers, if there is one, and to any announcements. This means taking good notes so you can reference them if you reach out to your new connections later. It can be a good lead in if you learned something from the speaker and have used it so you can share the case study with those whom you met. It’s unfortunate, but I’ve seen quite a few folks tune out during the presentation by being distracted by their phones or devices. If you’re present, people notice. I know I do. Plus it’s just polite to do so.

The ability to network effectively is very important for women leaders and business owners as research has shown we aren’t as effective at this as men.

Hopefully, these tips will help you maximize your connections at your next networking event or even when attending a friend’s party. If you practice this in your personal life, you’ll not only get new friends, but you’ll make it a habit which can only help in your professional life.

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