The convenience, not to mention the affordability, of using video conferencing software to interact with your employees, discuss business matters with your colleagues, and even host board meetings is undeniable.
However, attending a professional networking event that has been specifically arranged for your industry in person adds a whole new positive element to the experience, as even the highest of screen definitions can never replace face-to-face interactions.
With this in mind, here are four key tips when attending your first industry networking event.
1. Research the Event Beforehand
Background research and prior preparation are the cornerstones of any successful business event, and no more so than with an industry networking evening.
For example, if you are getting ready to attend a trade event, whereby different companies will have stands showcasing their business and their services and products, investigating the list of trade stands will save you valuable time and mean you can maximize the usefulness of the event.
2. Plan to Host Your Own Networking Evening
You will soon see, even if you are initially dubious about the effectiveness of networking, just how useful it can be and how many professionals you can make contact with that may help both your company and your own career.
As you enjoy the evening and hopefully make some useful contacts, think about the benefits of hosting your own professional networking event in the future. Consider everything, from the right venue and the types of professionals you would need to invite to bulk-buying corporate gifts of chocolate from leading retailers such as Maple Gifts.
3. Ensure Conversations are Short Yet Meaningful
Being surrounded by like-minded people who are as tenacious and ambitious as you are in your chosen field can feel, especially the first time you experience this, more than a little overwhelming.
This is why it is important to keep conversations short as you move from group to group or table to table, talking and forming business connections with new people. However, make sure that you give each conversation your full concentration, you do not try and dominate the conversation (you always learn more by listening than speaking), and to basically speak to as many different people as possible in the time you have.
Advice for introducing yourself includes:
- Always give your first and last name
- Be personable and approachable
- Represent yourself over the company you work for
- Remain professional at all times (and do not drink too much!)
4. Focus on Leads, Not Sales
The fourth and final most important thing to remember when attending your first industry networking evening is to resist the urge to ’sell’ yourself and, moreover, totally avoid trying to pitch your services or products for a sale.
These events are designed to generate leads for doing business in the future, as well as raising brand awareness and also to check out your closest industry competitors. As far as lead generation goes, you must place this to the back of your mind, especially during initial discussions, and never, under any circumstances, engage in the hard sell.
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