You’ve made it: you’ve arrived for the event, outfit already picked out, ready to hit the floor and start networking with dozens of potential new customers and contacts. Or are you? Besides the obvious personal hygiene stuff, preparing for your next big networking opportunity should include research, organization and, yes, even eating. Before you step out the door, remember these 6 rules to make sure you are ready to put your best foot forward.
1. Send the Right Signals
Before you have a chance to say a word to anyone at your next networking event, your body language will already be speaking for you. That means attention to small details can end up making the difference in creating a positive first impression. In other words, remember to smile, look people in the eye, stand up straight, and basically all the things your mother nagged you about as a kid. After you leave the event with a phone full of new valuable contacts, be sure to call her and say thanks.
2. Connect Early & Often
The Internet never sleeps. The conversation on social media keeps going before, during, and after your next networking event, so make sure you aren’t left out. If you know people who will be attending or presenting at the event, find them on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see what they’ve been doing and talking about. See if the event is using a specific hashtag that you can attach to your posts so others can find it easily. You can even create a new list on Twitter for the event, allowing you to store all your new connections in one place when its over.
3. Know Your Geography
To put it simply, if you don’t know where you are going, it’s tough to be successful networking at an event. If you are attending a big convention or an event spread over several buildings or city blocks, make sure to include routes for all your destinations in your schedule planning. Inputting locations into a GPS map application on your smartphone ensures you’ll always stay on track. A little advance research on convention floorplans or building layouts can also end up saving you precious minutes.
4. Power Up
Nowadays, a smartphone can do pretty much all the tools you might need to have successful networking event; that’s great, but it also means you’ll need to keep an eye on the battery. Investing in a mobile charger (such as the Tego Power brick) will allow you to take pictures and video, record audio memos, use social media and access your contacts during the event without worrying about running out of juice. But even then, it’s not a bad idea to have a couple low-tech backups; a stack of paper business cards and a pen and pad for note taking will never need to be plugged in.
5. Fuel Up
Effective networking requires concentration and energy, two things you’ll struggle with if you arrive at your next event hungry. Unless a formal sit-down dinner is included, make a point to eat ahead of time — and don’t rush the meal, if you can help it. Fueling up beforehand ensures you will be sharp and feeling your best when you really need to, not to mention save you from wasting time slogging through a buffet line.
6. Post Game
If you spend time planning out things to do before your next networking event, it only makes sense to have an idea of what happens afterwards. Check to see if any official or unofficial post-event gatherings have been scheduled, or simply check to see what restaurants, bars or other potential meeting places are near the location. Should you want to continue a great discussion with your new contacts after the event ends, you’ll already have a spot in mind.