In today’s digital world, some professionals perceive the concept of in-person networking as antiquated. With LinkedIn and Facebook groups, texting, Slack chats and videoconferencing, who needs to spend two hours at a networking event? Nevertheless, the power of in-person networking remains an incredibly valuable asset to PR pros aiming to advance their careers.
We need people. This seems like common sense, and in a way it is. But at the same time, the rapid emergence and advancement of technology in our daily lives is reducing the amount of personal interaction we have every day. From Google mapping directions to asking for career tips on online forums– answers used to get from other people are now digitally at our fingertips. That being said, person-to-person interactions still create the most significant connections. In these interactions, people will give you information that you didn’t know you needed and opportunities you didn’t know existed. We’ve outlined tips below on how to make your next networking event count!
Come prepared with your goals in mind
Going to a networking event can be nerve-wracking. Annual conferences can have as few as 10 people at a roundtable event to a few thousand at an annual conference. No matter the numbers, coming to these events with the end goal in mind will take the edge off. So, prepare ahead with your team. By first outlining your company’s objectives you can identify a purpose for the event, rather than walking in blindly. For example, you can map out how many people you want to meet, how many meetings you’ll set, how many business cards you’ll exchange and to whom you’ll connect.
Plan on meeting new people
Whether you’re representing yourself or your team, bringing someone to a networking event can be detrimental to engaging with those around you. If you fly solo, you’ll be less distracted and will be forced to interact with new people. Remember, you’re not there to socialize with your colleagues or friends, you’re there to expand your network, which can directly correlate to new professional opportunities, referrals or customers. Once you muster up the courage to approach an individual or group and strike up a conversation, bear in mind that you need to talk about them, not yourself. If you suck up all of the air, you won’t be able to recognize a problem the other person is having, and you can miss out on an opportunity to be the solution. At the end of the conversation, ask for their card. Don’t give yours. It shows initiative without being too pushy and puts you in control for following up.
Often there are so many people at the networking event that you won’t get a chance to get to the “ask.” This is where following up comes in. You have a few options. You can connect with them on social media or send a direct email. If you decide to contact them personally, start by pointing out your conversation’s highlights and any commonalities you shared in the conversation. Then at the end, ask to set up a time to meet. At the appointment, only then do you ask for their business. Being too overbearing in your email can drive them away before you even set up the meeting.
By following these tips, it’ll enable you to grow your business to new heights!
Until next time!
Passionate about all things communications, Jolie found her dream job as a copywriter with Critical Mention, where she’s continuing her passion for writing and editing. With a background working for high-profile clients in the financial, hospitality and technology industries, she’s excited to bring her experience to Critical Mention. When she’s not writing you can find her at music festivals, hiking or snowboarding.