Business networking events are ideal places to meet new clients. But it’s not enough to just show up. If you park yourself at a table, or gossip with your business partner, you won’t make any new connections.
The problem often lies in knowing what to say. For most people, it’s intimidating to approach a stranger, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.
Chances are, before heading out to a business or social event, you think about what you will wear, how you will get to the event, and even where you will park. How often do you plan what you will say once you get there?
This article gives you 7 tips to help you prepare for a networking event, so you never feel tong-tied or at a loss for words.
Before the event, use these ideas to plan three or four conversation topics :
1. At a business event, know what’s happening in your industry. Read professional journals and newsletters in your field to keep up-to-date.
2. If you are in a new city, find out about local events. Learn about the home team, movie releases, and books and cultural events in the news.
3. Be up on current events. Read the local and national newspapers. Skim the headlines and top stories for topics of interest.
4. Watch the local and national news. You don’t want to be in the dark about recent developments.
5. Look at the three main types of magazines: News magazines, business magazines, and general interest magazines. This will give you plenty of conversation starters.
6. Use a funny story from the newspaper, or a personal anecdote to start a conversation. Humor brings people together
7. The best way to start the conversation is to begin with your shared experience, the event you are attending. Start by asking about the person’s relationship to the event or group. For example:
o Have you been to (name of event) before?
o Have you been to (this city/location) before?
o What did you think of the keynote speaker?
o How do you like the event so far?
o What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?
o How do you know (name of host or hostess)?
Any of these questions give you an instant connection because you’ve had the same experience.
You are invited to use these tips to connect at networking events.