When you invest your time and energy to go to a live event or a networking group meeting, you want to make the most of it. One of the best things you can do is to take a few minutes to prepare for the event before you go. Here are some suggestions to help you get ready for your next networking opportunity.
- Find out some of the details about the group and the event. What is the structure of the meeting? Is there a speaker? Is there an opportunity for each person to say a few words of introduction? Sometimes the website will reveal this information. Or you may be able to find a contact name or phone number so you can ask these questions before you go to the meeting. Get the address and check out the location on a map app or GPS ahead of time. This will help you plan your route and the amount of travel time needed to get to the event.
- Plan what you’ll wear and what you’ll take. It’s always smart to dress professionally. Even when it’s a more casual event, choose sharp casual. Take plenty of business cards. Aim for twice as many cards as you think you may need. This gives you extras in case some of the people you meet don’t have a card. You can ask them to write their contact info on the back of one of your cards. (Draw a diagonal line across the front of those cards so you don’t accidentally give them to someone else.)
- Set a couple of goals or intentions for the meeting. For example, aim to meet three to five new people. Don’t try to meet everyone. That’s not a realistic goal and it sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Another great goal is to listen for a way you can help at least one person that you meet. You can also set a goal to listen for a resource that would help you right now. This could be finding other network meetings, finding the name of a good person to meet, or asking for recommendations for a resource you need.
Taking these three steps will only take a few minutes and they will position you well as you go to your next meeting or event. It will increase the benefits you receive from attending events, as well as the value you can contribute to the people you meet there.
What are your preparation steps before you go to networking events? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Also, in future blog posts I’ll share ideas and strategies for what to do when you are at events, and after events as well. What questions would you like me to address in those posts?