Networking is not a casual, unstructured activity – it is a serious business activity which is a fundamentally important element within your marketing strategy. Your business profile can only be enhanced by turning up in an organised, prepared way – so give it some thought, as you would for any other meeting.
- Check the exact location and time of the meeting, so you are not late. You will create a far better first impression by being too early than by being the last one to rush in.
- Understand the format of the networking meeting. Will you get to speak to a table, or to the whole room ? If so, how long will you get ? Your elevator pitch is your opportunity to make a good impression – so prepare it, time it and rehearse it.
- Get an idea of the expected attendees. Will they be business owners, senior managers, start-ups, from the creative sector, from the financial sector ? By understanding the nature of the other attendees, you can tailor your pitch accordingly and maybe get an idea of the expected dress code.
- Establish the cost of the event, and whether payment is required in advance
- Don’t forget the “must take” items – business cards, flyers, leaflets, badge, elevator pitch notes, pen, notebook, diary, pull-up banners if allowed
- Finally, you can only evaluate a networking event if you are clear beforehand what your objectives are. Why exactly are you going, what do you hope to get out of an event, and what would be a good outcome for you ?
Networking is all about raising your profile, building a reputation and establishing credibility. Don’t start off on the wrong foot by clearly not being prepared.