The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.
The art of face-to-face networking is not a random event; it requires time and dedication to get the most out of the events or groups you attend. If you are a member of an association or networking group that features a seated meal at meetings, there are a number of unique strategies to help you build a one-to-one relationship over a meal.
There are several options on choosing your meal companion; each with different rationale.
- Sit with random people you don’t know.
- Sit with friends and/or people you do know.
- Choose to sit with one or two people you would like to know more about, and perhaps do business with.
- Sit down at an empty table, letting random friends, peers or strangers join you.
All of the options are completely acceptable, but I recommend choosing option three. The most effective way to expand your professional circle is to invite one or two specific people to sit with you and engage with them.
Who: Selecting which members to get to know
An ideal strategy for planning to build a new connection is to find out in advance which people have RSVP’d for the event. Even if an RSVP list is not available to you in advance, be the first one to arrive and review meeting badges on the registration table.
Prior to the meeting, select four to five people who you would like to get to know. Think about why those people may be important as part of your circle of business contacts. Connect with them during cocktails, chat a bit, and ask one or two of them to join you for the meal. If not already committed, one of them will likely accept your invitation.
How: Learning more about other members
With the popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, bios or profiles are usually published for members of each platform. Most often, people do elect to make their profile ‘public’, with minor or no limitations on access. Therefore, no one should be shocked if another businessperson reads a profile to learn a little bit more about them.