This week we’re at Wedding MBA in Las Vegas, and networking is on our minds! Networking is extremely important in the wedding industry, which is why we host Networking Nights, Mix & Mingles and Happy Hours regularly to bring local wedding professionals together to make new connections.
Whether you’re attending Wedding MBA 2013, or just thinking about registering for another wedding industry event in the future, follow our top tips for making the most out of your networking experience!
Attending networking events is great for your business, but knowing how to conduct yourself to maximize the contacts that you make, and being ready to positively convey your business to other Pros is important. Do your research beforehand to find out the types of businesses in attendance, the seminars or sessions you’d like to attend and the general atmosphere of the event. If it’s a more formal event, you might want to prepare an “elevator” pitch of sorts. If it’s a less formal event, be ready to chat casually with other professionals to see how you could possibly work together.
Set goals before you go
People attend networking events for a variety of reasons – you could be looking to get recommendations from your peers, expand your network of referrals or identify potential partners. Setting goals for your business before the event helps you focus on building the right types of relationships. When you get the opportunity to look at the other attendees, set your goals for who you’d like to talk to and what you’d like to get out of the event. You’ll have a clearer path to getting the most benefit out of the event.
Make a great first impression
At any sort of professional event you should be trying to present yourself as someone you’d be interested in meeting. While what you say is important, body language plays a large role in how you present yourself and your business to both clients and peers. Making eye contact, giving a strong handshake and standing up straight convey confidence and interest. Try asking questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer to engage people and give them a chance to share more about themselves. These strategies will help you be memorable so your new contacts will remember you fondly after the event!
Remember to follow up
As time passes between the event and when you actually send your follow-up emails, attendees could potentially forget who you were and that they gave their email address to you. Be sure to stay top-of-mind with potential new business by following up with new contacts in a timely manner! Whether you decide to send a one-to-one email or choose to connect via LinkedIn with a personal note, remind the contact who you are and what the two of you spoke about at the event. State your intentions so the contact knows that you are serious about a potential relationship and ready to take the next step.
Network, Rinse, Repeat
Networking can often be a lot like dating, so practice makes perfect! If this networking event went well, just think how many more contacts you’ll receive each time you attend another event. Networking events are a great way to grow your business and identify other vendors who could make great partners, and future friends. Keep going to events, and try to learn something new each time you attend an event to keep improving your networking skills and expanding your network!