26 FebHow to Maximize Your Time at Networking Events

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Going to a networking event only to strike out and come away with nothing has to be one of the most frustrating things you can go through as a business owner. All those people eager to do business in one room and you weren’t able to get a single one on your side. It wasn’t from lack of trying; you simply couldn’t get anything going.

Part of the blame may lie on your lack of preparation before the event. Not that you didn’t prepare at all – just that you didn’t prepare in the right ways. You only have a limited amount of time at these networking events and if you waste even a minute you may have missed out on a great opportunity.

Here are some ways you can prepare for your next networking event that will help you maximize your time there.

Make 3 Goals

You don’t to go networking events just to hang around and chat with others. That’s what you end up doing most of the time, sure, but that’s not why we go. We go to make connections, have stimulating conversation, and expand our network and knowledge of our local business opportunities.

So why limit your goals for the event to “meet new people?” You have goals you want to accomplish in your business, and the event can help you with them. However, if you don’t go in with the right mindset, you won’t get anything done.

Write down three goals you want to accomplish at the event. Make them as specific as possible so you don’t leave any room for doubt. Instead of “meet new business partners,” make one goal “meet a business partner who can help me break into the restaurant industry.”

Research

Everything is online. This includes all the people going to the networking event you’re about to attend. Now that you’ve set your specific goals for the event, you undoubtedly have a better idea who you want to talk to.

So why not do a little research first? More than likely the company hosting the event has made a Facebook page or other website for the party. Go see who has posted an RSVP and check them out as well as their business. You may find they’re exactly who you’re looking for and have just cut your work in half.

Get Materials in Order

You’ve got your business card all ready to go – or do you? Remember the last event you attended and realized your email was wrong so you spent half the night writing the new one down? Yeah, it’s time to print some new ones, or at least pre-write the right email on the old cards.

Keep in mind everyone else at the event will have a business card, and they (as will you) will have collected dozens of the little rectangles by the end of the evening. What sets yours apart? Should you bring something else, like those custom magnets you had made up for a rainy day? You want your new friends and colleagues to remember you, and the card alone may not do it. Figure out how to stand out!

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