Business networking is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your connections, engage with new clients, gain fresh ideas to drive your business forward and, of course, gain invaluable career advice and support.
However, putting yourself out there at a networking event is a daunting prospect for many of us, especially if you need to mingle with people that you don’t know.
But networking events needn’t be a chore or something you dread! After all, they are a great way to build long-term relationships, build your client base and even access new and exciting job opportunities.
If you’re due to attend a networking event in the coming months, you’ve landed in the right place. We’ve created a guide to help you get ready for your networking event, from figuring out what to wear through to perfecting those all-important conversation starters, we’ve got you covered.
Preparing for a networking event
Putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to improve your social skills and develop your confidence. Trust us, once you’ve conquered one networking event, you’ll wonder what you ever worried about.
When it comes to enjoying a successful networking event, preparation really is key.
First and foremost, you should write down your goals for the event such as who you’re hoping to meet – is there a particular sector, business or individual you’re hoping to engage with? What are you hoping to get out of the event?
Remember, if there’s a speaker at your networking event, make sure you look them up in advance, so you know who they are and what they do. This means if you do get the opportunity to speak with them, you’ll be able to hold down an interesting and, hopefully, beneficial conversation.
Connect and engage with your peers in advance
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other attendees prior to the networking event. Many networking events have an attendee list that you’ll be able to access before the event takes place. If you’ve introduced yourself before you even arrive at the event, you should find it easier to find something to talk about. If you are unable to track down their personal contact information, why not connect on LinkedIn or reach out via social media?
Knowing what to wear for a networking event
First impressions count and the way you present yourself can say a lot about you as an individual, as well as your business.
With this in mind, you should make sure that your outfit choice is smart, respectable and professional.
Conversation starters – the best questions to ask
Even if you’re the most confident person in the world and starting conversations comes naturally to you, it can be difficult to know what to say at networking events.
The good news is, there are a whole host of conversation starters that are sure to get your conversations off to a great start. Common conversation starters include:
- “So, what brought you here today?”
- “What’s your story?”
- “How did you hear about the event?”
- “Tell me about what you do”
Other ways to spark conversation is to ask your fellow networkers what they thought about the guest speaker (if you have one at your event) or even talk about topical issues happening within your sector.
Remember, networking isn’t about finding common ground with someone on a personal level, it’s about talking business, making those all-important connections, and building relationships that you can potentially benefit from.
You’ll also find that at the vast majority of networking events, the networking event host will provide ways to encourage networkers to get talking.
Here at The Grubstreet Author, we have three spaces for your business meetings in London. If you require further information about any of our spaces for networking, please do not hesitate to get in touch to find out how we can help you host an effective and engaging meeting at The Grubstreet Author.