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How to navigate networking events

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Have a goal

Know why you show up before you pull up. Easily the most disorienting pillar of the successful professional, have a mantra for your head game keeps things clear when things go sideways at a networking event. Make it something like this: 1). Get 3 business cards. 2). Find one person you really get along with. 3). Find out about one other event. 4). Get some bespoke advice on GPS Fleet Management. Even if you partially unlock an achievement, you’ve won this round. Goals here are more of guidelines than rules.

Be Flexible

Going with the flow will lead to places you couldn’t have anticipated. Being flexible finishes what having a goal started. You may meet a score of new clients or you may receive two dozen pitches for life insurance or time shares or whatever IRL spammers are slinging that day. Or, you might find your next business partner.

Have a personal pitch

Have a pitch about yourself and what you represent so that people can easily understand your brand. In a sea of faces and names that rolls on and on, having a concise narrative will help you stand out. Having a personal brand requires a little crafting and curation. Anything from a style of dress to a way of speaking can define your brand when in-person.

Look for the diamond in the rough

Keep an eye out for people that you gel with and are able to help you. Connecting with everyone feels like a valuable play, but rarely yields beneficial results. Watching out for people that seem to have the right chemistry can yield optimum results. Example, if you need help with GPS Fleet Management, the right person can be your ticket to the perfect package.

Know the time wasters

Quickly spotting people that will waste your time is key to finding a “diamond in the rough.” These are usually comprised of insurance sales people and multi-level marketers. They will be very eager to talk to you and then pitch you on a product. Unless you came to the event intending to buy those kind of services, talking to them for more than a few minutes will be a waste of your time.

Dress the part

Dressing nice or at least on par with the rest of the crowd is key for several reasons. First, it creates the kind of social proof that makes the first few seconds of conversation go smoothly. Second, you don’t stand out from the crowd for the wrong reasons. Third, the rest of the networkers take you seriously.

Stay the whole time

Staying the whole time is an indicator of your commitment level to the event and the cause. Most networkers are there because they are trying to advance their professional standing and they only want to associate with people of equal seriousness.

Work one spot

Staying in one area of the venue creates a power space for you. Refraining from circling the entire event portrays a calm and collected demeanor. You will get to know other people in that area better than if you moved to next group of people quickly.

Quality not quantity

Talking deeply and extendedly with a few people is more likely to yield a genuine connection, a helpful tip, or some other benefit than surface level small talk with hordes of people. Most people no matter the setting take time to genuinely open up in conversation.

Expect to go to another one

Networking is a long game that requires multiple events to see results. Networking contacts usually become business relationships after meeting several times. Also, networking to find the right people is a numbers game.

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