Donna Fisher, Guest Author
Every year thousands of events are held in cities all across the country, giving people the opportunity to network. By attending a conference or convention of your industry you place yourself in a fertile networking environment. That experience can be fun, productive, and valuable or it can be uncomfortable, unproductive, and time-consuming. It’s all up to you — how well you prepare for and conduct yourself at the event.
Learn everything you can about the event — activities, attendees, schedule, etc. Then determine what will make you feel comfortable: Should you go with someone you know who’s also attending? Is it appropriate to bring a friend, associate, or client? Would it be more profitable for you to be an attendee or an exhibitor?
Identify the People You Want to Visit
A convention is a great opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and expand your network. Think about who will likely be there and make a mental note of the new contacts and reconnections you want to make.
• Get Involved One way to put yourself at ease is to give yourself something to do. Volunteering not only gives you a job to do, but gets you involved and naturally connects you with other volunteers and participants.
• Focus on Others Rather than worrying about what you’re going to say, focus on what others are saying. When you have your attention on something or someone other than yourself, your self-consciousness will disappear and others will be more likely to remember and appreciate you.
• Listen and Gather Information Good conversationalists know the importance of listening. It conveys a natural interest in others and enables you to be more aware of what to say and talk about in order to keep the conversation flowing.
• Use People’s Names Pay attention as people introduce themselves so that you can address them by name during the current conversation and increase chances of remembering their name at a later date.
• Move on Graciously A networking event is a place to meet and mingle. Yet, people often feel uncomfortable ending a conversation so they can mingle and talk with others. Just be gracious, with a closing comment such as “Nice to meet you. Have a good afternoon.” “Good luck with your new venture.”
• Exchange Business Cards Business cards are best exchanged when there’s some stated reason to do so, such as “I’ll call about scheduling a time to get together for lunch” or “Give me a card and I’ll send that information to you tomorrow.”
• Relax, Have Fun and Enjoy Yourself People often get uptight about attending networking events because they feel they have to find a new prospect, make a sale, or accomplish some significant goal. Networking is meant to be fun. Relax. The more at ease you feel, the more likely it is you’ll make some good solid contacts. The goal shouldn’t be the quantity of interactions, but the quality.
There are possibilities all around you — people are just waiting for someone to break the ice. That someone could be you!
Copyright 2013 – Donna Fisher – Reprinted with permission. Donna Fisher, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), is a professional speaker, trainer and author of Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success. She teaches people skills essential for business success. For further information: www.DonnaFisher.com or 800-934-9675.
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