So you been invited to a business luncheon, or a mix and mingle networking event. Do you accept the invitation? Are you prepared to attend? Do you have enough current business cards, with accurate website and contact details? Do you have suit? Do you have an electronic device, for storing all of the contact details, of the many great business contacts, with whom you will liaise? Are you ready to network?
Being ready, to effectively network, is the key strategy to employ at a business event. Surely, business people do attend, not being adequately prepared to network. But you will not be one of those unprepared attendees. Instead, before the much anticipated event, you will have a well-rehearsed response, for what you will say, when you are asked about your business, and the work that you do. You will be able to easily reply when asked about your area of specialization. Also, you will have determined in advance, key questions that you will ask of the business contacts, with whom you will interact at the event. It is appropriate to prepare a varied set questions, for each business type / area of specialization.
Will you want to network with everyone at the function, or only those in a specific industry? You will want to budget your time wisely, considering that you will not be able to meet all guests. Have you determined how much time you will allocate to for each introduction? How will you conclude a discussion, which seems to have lost its purpose, or has no focus?
To maximize your networking capability, you should rehearse with a qualified business partner, prior to the event. Role-play your proposed interaction, as you if you were already at the networking soiree. Or you could practice your routine, independently, before a mirror. You will want to ensure your communication is lavishly eloquent. You must not display any nervous fidgeting or stuttering, or you will seem out of place. Also, be culturally prepared to properly greet others; with a smile, or a handshake.
Being professional includes knowing when you should offer your business card, and likewise recognize when you should request one? Usually, a business card should only be extended, once you have received a keen interest in your services. Once you have provided your business card, or contact details – as a matter of course, in professional courtesy – your new contact will likely reciprocate. Be sure to always smile, stand-up straight, walk with poise. With great confidence, you will do well as a networking professional.