When to start networking at an event?

Most participants start networking when they enter the room where the actual event is taking place. And this is a pity. Why? Because they missed a lot of opportunities.

Let’s go over some of those opportunities in a special way: in reverse order. Picture a movie that you rewind.

Reception desk: here you get lots of opportunities:

  • While waiting for your name tag, you can start a conversation with the people in front or behind you.
  • Ask for the attendance list (if you didn’t get it beforehand): if you didn’t plan how to deal with the event, this is your last chance for preparation.
  • My golden tip: connect with the organiser. And if she is not there, ask the host to point her out. Always thank the organiser for her efforts to organise the event and the invitation. Do this sincerely. No sucking-up allowed. People feel when a compliment is not real.

Lobby: if it is a large venue, the lobby could be the place to start a conversation with potential co-attendees. If the people you approached are not participating in the event, at least you had the opportunity to work on your “contact making” skills. And maybe you had a nice and fruitful conversation too.

Parking: the same as with the lobby. Use your time from the parking to the reception area efficiently and effectively by connecting with other people.

A few hours before the event: meet another attendee for breakfast, lunch or diner before the networking event starts. This is a perfect opportunity to have a one-on-one chat and optimising your travel time (avoiding traffic jams, having other meetings,…).

A few days before the event: you can contact other attendees to invite them for breakfast, lunch or diner. You can also have a small private meeting before or during the event. Or you can just ask to talk for five minutes during the reception. Making this physical contact at the event (or only on the phone) makes a follow-up afterwards much easier.

Next week I explain why connecting with people before entering the room can be a very good idea.

Have a great networking day !

Jan

PS: this is an abstract from my networking book “Let’s Connect!” (go to www.letsconnect.be and get your FREE light version of the book)

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