Big business events can be daunting – it looks like everyone knows each other and they’re all super-confident.
Nope. Some will be confident, and some will know other attendees. But everyone was the new kid once, and if you don’t jump in you’ll never know how far you can go.
Here’s my top tips for nervous networkers:
Arrive early when there’s less people
Talk one on one with the other early birds and when it’s busier you’ll have some friendly faces to circulate back to if it all gets a bit much.
Don’t stay solo
If you see someone on their own, approach them. Now neither of you are on your own!
You’re not there to sell
Don’t open a conversation by pitching your business, just talk to people – about work, about hobbies, holidays, local roadworks, whatever gets things going. You’re there to meet people and build relationships, the ‘doing business’ bit will come later on if and when it’s right.
It’s all about the contacts
Keep an open mind – it’s not just about this one event. You might meet someone who will be useful in the future, or who knows someone that needs your particular skills. Who/what are your colleagues and contacts looking for right now? Keep that in mind.
What do you do?
Have a brief summary of your business in your head, for when someone asks what you do. Make it clear and concise – you can get into details later, if and when it’s appropriate. This is not the time for your elevator pitch. “I’m a small business consultant, I specialise in branding and marketing.” That’s as much as you need to say.
Ration your business cards
Don’t give it out like it’s a flyer – when you’re speaking to someone interesting ask for theirs, and wait for them to ask for yours in return. Also, make sure your card is easy to read. No tiny text in script font, thank you.
Look up your new-found contacts on social media and follow them. Give them a shout-out on Twitter saying ‘great to meet @XXX and @YYY yesterday #event’. If you come across any information relevant to your conversation with them, share it on social media and tag them.
Go to the next one. People will remember you and you’ll remember them, so it gets easier…