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5 Stratagies to Make the Most of “Networking” Events

March 14, 2014
Conference

Photo courtesy of
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Have you ever been to a general “networking” event? Most entrepreneurs worth anything won’t touch them.

Why?

Most seem to have a secondary purpose, like signing you up for a network marketing company. And an overabundance of people like real estate agents, who only attend because they’re hoping to find new clients.

If you’re here, chances are you’re what I’d call a “creative entrepreneur.” In other words, you’re an author, a blogger, a marketing professional, a musician, a programmer, or something similar.

You’re not like the people you find at “networking” events — you’re somebody with a message to spread and you create something, whether it be with words, with ones and zeros, or by taking action on ideas. Then you sell what you create.

Where Do You Meet People Like You?

The best places I’ve found to meet like-minded people who take what they do seriously are paid conferences, workshops, and “bootcamp” style events that are very specific in nature.

You don’t want to weed through a bunch of real estate agents if that’s not your business and the “paid” part is important, as it filters out the tire-kickers from those who treat this work like a hobby. Neither of these things is a guarantee you’ll walk away with something great, but they’re a start in the right direction.

Then what? Showing up is a good start, but how do you make the most of an event you’re attending?

5 Strategies to Connect with People In Your Industry

1. Add Value – This is paramount for a successful event. The more value you can add, the more what you want will fall into place.

When meeting somebody ask yourself, “How can I help this guy?”

  • Do you have knowledge that will help him?
  • Do you know somebody who does?
  • Can you split a cab to the airport after the event is over?
There are lots of ways to provide value, even if you’re way our of your league when it comes to business success.

2. Go With an Agenda – Know who you’re looking to connect with and what you’re looking for.

If you can get a list of people attending the event beforehand, use it to make initial connections via Twitter or email. Note that you should have a purpose in mind when doing this.

The night before the event starts is often a great time to setup meetings with other attendees because there will be less competition for attention and fewer distractions. And the quicker you’re able to establish a good connection, the more you’ll be able use it will be during the event.

Is getting new information your primary purpose for attending the event? Go with a list of questions you need answered.

I think it’s great to be “open to whatever” when at a conference, but know there is usually so much going on that it’s also easy to get lost and off-track. You should be open to unplanned events happening during an event, but your first plan of action should be to go after what you want for best results.

3. Connect Others – One of the best ways to establish rapport with people is to connect them to others whom they’ll find helpful.

As mentioned above, helping people to make connections with others is a great way to provide value and the more value you can provide for somebody, the more likely you’ll be able to make a solid connection yourself.

4. Work with a Team – Conferences and similar events can be overwhelming and it’s impossible to be everywhere at one. It’s for these reasons that I suggest attending events with a friend. This will allow you to split up, talk each other up, and introduce each other to interesting people.

5. Followup – It’s amazing to me how people will spend so much time, energy, and effort to get to an event and attend it, but completely drop everything (and everybody) they’ve been introduced to once the event is over.

If you meet somebody interesting, followup immediately and build upon your initial connection. This will keep lines of communication open for the future.

A quick email is a good start. Something I like to drop a postcard in the mail before leaving the event, letting the person I met know I valued the experience. And if we happened to talk about a specific book, I’ll often send that as well.

Final Thoughts

Your time is valuable. Make the most of it by only going to events with a high probability for great people and useful information.

Even at the best events, not everybody is going to be at the level you are. Regardless of where you are, you’re probably going to run into some people who aren’t at your level. With that said, sometimes people can surprise you.

Make the best of each opportunity and, if you find yourself in a situation that isn’t on your level, cut your losses and continue to move forward.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.

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