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“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Networking is often referred to as THE most important marketing tool for business, yet so many professionals do not know how to properly network. In the Events Industry, we are given so many opportunities to network with each other, and it is time to start utilizing these opportunities to our best advantage.
Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships, not contacts. You never know what company a person will be at in a few months, so rather than making a snap decision based on where they are now, make a business contact that will last.
Photo Credit: Bicoastal Images
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you network:
DO keep it light. It may sound strange, but a networking event is not the place to talk business. Keep chit chat casual.
DON’T stick to only people you already know. It is so easy and much more comfortable to stick with people you already know, but that is not going to build your network. You can always grab a coffee together after the event.
DO introduce yourself to new people. It can be scary to walk up to a stranger, but you already know you are in the same industry, you have mutual ground. Ask them what they think about a new trend, what they thought of the speaker you just heard or about a vendor that you just experienced.
DON’T talk about politics, religion, anything controversial or guaranteed to spur strong opinions. That is what your friends are for.
DO exchange business cards with people you like. You never know when an opportunity to work together may come up.
DON’T monopolize people. If you see someone’s eyes starting to dart around, set them free.
DO attend as many events as you possibly can. You will be a better, more-connected professional for it.
DON’T drink too much. You are representing your company in a professional capacity.
DO talk about the event you are at (positively.) Only stick to good things about the event you are at. If you speak negatively, you are giving the impression that you are a negative person.
DON’T gossip or slander. It is a very small world, you never know who knows each other and you are showing the other person that you are not trustworthy. They will conclude that if you can talk about someone else to a stranger, you will talk about them too.
DO have an elevator speech ready. You should be able to tell what you do and how you are special in 30 seconds or less.
DON’T tell your life story. This is not the appropriate time. If you must use a stranger as a sounding board, pay a therapist, it is their job to listen to you.
DO ask about the person you are speaking to. Find out what that person does and what makes their service special.
DON’T brag or assume you are more successful or experienced than the person you are speaking to. Just because the other person is secure enough not to boast or compete, it does not mean they are not successful.
DO connect others. If you meet someone that you know would be a great contact for someone else, introduce them! They will likely to do the same for you.
DON’t forget to Follow-up. You’ve made a great new contact, make sure to follow-up with them after the event to keep that connection!
What are some of your Do’s and Don’ts for Networking? Have you been on the receiving end of a Networking Don’t? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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