It’s connections that count in the PA world. Making connections that benefit your business as a whole can be a daunting, even to seasoned PAs. Networking events remain central to forming lasting relationships with quality partners and suppliers, but with the rise of social media, networking no longer begins and ends with the event itself. Read on for some ideas on how a little forward-planning and a nod to social media can give your networking the boost it needs.
Networking events remain central to forming lasting relationships with quality partners and suppliers, but with the prominence of social media, networking no longer begins and ends with the event itself. Read on for some ideas on how a little forward-planning and a nod to social media can give your networking the boost it needs.
1: Get a feel
The networking process begins before you leave the house. Do your research like an MI agent, and you will reap the rewards on the day. Try observing discussions around the event on social media, picking up on the general tone and topics of particular interest. Be sure to respond to comments that you agree with, or add your own ideas. This can result in links being forged before the event even begins, as you can plan to meet fellow contributors on the day, giving yourself a head start on getting to know attendees.
2: Have a goal
While it is certainly tempting to go to as many networking events as possible and simply see who you meet, it’s always worth having a plan. Your goal for the day can be as specific as seeking out the perfect vendor for an upcoming event, or as simple as meeting three useful people, and making plans for further discussion with them. Walking into the room with a plan in your head will stop you from feeling thrown by the scale of the event, or being sidetracked by irrelevant conversations.
3: Make an entrance
We all know that confidence is key to successful networking, but appearing confident can be easier said than done. Start by asking for an event assistant to point out the event host. That way, you can immediately introduce yourself and give your thanks, allowing the host to introduce you to other relevant people. If you do find yourself standing on your own, find someone else in the same boat and initiate a conversation. There is a time and place to play hard to get, but this is not one of them!
4: Find a balance
Walking the line between being memorable and dominating conversation may take a little practice. Remember, you’re here to gather information about other attendees, not necessarily to sell yourself. Start a conversation with a brief description of what you do, but don’t appear to be bragging. Showing yourself to be a good listener can make just as much of an impact as flaunting your fine words. Have some specific questions to hand to quickly ascertain whether each person is someone you want to work with. Keeping these questions specific to your goals will ensure that you don’t bore new acquaintances with the same conversation they’ve had ten times that day!
5: Share the love
Just because you’re networking in person doesn’t mean that social networking can be neglected. If the event you’re attending has a Twitter hashtag, add some comments and photos throughout the day. This not only raises awareness about the event and ingratiates your host, but also guarantees that fellow attendees will remember you and reconnect with you when they check in on the comments later.
6: Follow Up
Begin your follow-up routine with a message of thanks to the event host - either via email or private message for comments and constructive criticism, or through social media for maximum exposure. Ensure that you connect online with the contacts you made at the event, adding them on LinkedIn or Twitter if possible, and negotiating the details of any assistance or meetings promised in your initial conversation.
While social networking will never replace the valuable connections that come from face-to-face meetings and personal introductions, social media tools can be a key part of your networking arsenal, helping you to forge the confident connections that your company needs.
Are you looking to host your own event or networking opportunity? We can help. Get in touch with us today.