1. Find out the format of the event. Different networking events are structured in different ways. Knowing the format of the event will help you prepare yourself.
2. Get ready to say HELLO! Most people are not comfortable about approaching strangers for the first time and starting a conversation! The only good thing to remember is THEY feel exactly the same most of the time!
3. If possible aim to network with people you haven’t met before. Networking events are really just an opportunity to introduce yourself and your services to new contacts.
4. Let the other person talk first. Letting them go first shows your willingness to listen and also will give you useful information to help you tailor what you say in return.
5. Exchange business cards. You have limited time so at least ensure that you exchange business cards so you can contact them at a later date.
6. Make notes on business cards collected so you will be reminded after the event about who you have met and what action is required. Some cards will be laminated so make sure you have a pen which will write on all surfaces.
7. Organise your business cards effectively. You need to be organised so you’ll need a place to put business cards collected and a separate place to keep your own business cards so you don’t end up giving out someone else’s card (easily done!) Perhaps have an in-pocket and out-pocket in your trousers, jacket or handbag.
8. Make it clear if you would like a further conversation. If you think you’ve met a useful contact then let them know and indicate when you would like to talk again.
9. Remember to SMILE! Visual first impressions are more important than a brilliant pitch.
10. Wear your badge so fellow networkers see your name without being obvious!