This post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.
Whether you have an established business or if you’re just starting out, networking is crucial for your company to thrive. Networking can be intimidating and nerve-wracking, but with the proper tips, you can definitely take advantage of any networking event. You want to come in confident, make your mark, and guarantee that they will remember you.
- Do your research.
Never go into a networking event blind. You don’t need to necessarily deep dive to find every little detail, but definitely do some background research to find out the background of the company hosting the event, who will be there, what type of features the event will have to maximize networking, etc. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to prepare some conversation starters. It may seem awkward and unnatural at first, but the more you have these in the back of your head, the more prepared you will feel when you meet up with someone new. You never know who you are going to meet, and you want to guarantee that you make a solid impression.
- Shake out the nerves and be confident.
When you get to the event, you may feel nervous (which is normal!), but don’t let it affect you to the point where you just freeze. You’re here to maximize your business and meet people that will only help you. The more confident you feel, the more you will succeed at these events. Take a couple of deep breaths, shake it off, and walk in and network like boss. You’ve got this!
- Just do it.
Do a quick scan of the room, find the person you want to talk to and just do it. You have about five seconds to go start that conversation before you begin to overthink it or worse, allow someone else to beat you to the punch. This is all about creating those new connections and you want to take advantage of these opportunities.
- Be genuine and keep it real.
Yes, you have the prepared conversation ignitors, but make sure to keep it natural. These connections could help build lasting relationships and give you the ability to collaborate in the future. Be genuinely curious about what they have to say and learn more about them.
- Follow up.
After the event is over and you have a pocket full of business cards, it’s important to follow up with each of them. Allow for a day or two and send them an email just stating how nice it was to meet them and how much you’d love to collaborate together. I suggest adding in something that you talked about or if something notable happened while you were chatting, bring that up as well. It gives them a little reminder to who you are, in case they forgot, and shows them that you genuinely cared about your conversation together.
Networking events can often be intimidating, but they are crucial to every business, especially new ones. With the right preparation you will have the confidence to nail that event and leave with a handful of new contacts. Good luck!