From ice breakers to handshakes, trading cards to buying cocktails, networking can be both fun and a chore, but also a necessity for most successful executives.

Networking Events are Key Socially and Professionally. Networking has been a staple of business development since the dawn of time and it has been covered extensively in a good number of articles, blog posts and talk shows. Many of us have different approaches when it comes to expanding our web – be it for business or personal use. There’s a myriad of choices on how to approach networking; no wonder there’s a new blog post or web article published about it in what seems like a daily basis!

Recently, I was at a regular networking event when I started to think about all the different approaches we make to widen our reach. I considered how much value I place on the ability to network.

Networking events are key socially and professionally – after all, it is okay to have friends in our business!

Everyone has ideas on what to do after a networking event but what should you do when you are actually there? And because I work in the conference and event technology space, when I hit up a networking event, I have a few basic rules:

  • Treat the event as you would any work-related conversation. You should not walk into a networking event without doing some research on who is your host and who the other guests are.
  • Keep in mind that just because people are there for the social component of the day (especially true if you are someone who works from home), that does not mean you should be unprepared to talk shop. Have your elevator pitch ready for the one or two times that you’ll need it!
  • Show up alone, but if you already know people in the event, make an effort to meet someone new within the first few minutes of being there. Nobody likes to be outside his or her own comfort zone – that is why it is called the comfort zone – however, that is not why you went out tonight! Spending the entire evening with the few people you have met before is called hanging out with friends. You didn’t need to put on your best REI khakis and closed-toed shoes for that!
  • Most importantly, have fun! Networking is part of our job. Whether you are a vendor, conference manager or trade show organizer, everyone at the event has an agenda so simply set that fact aside and walk away happy.

If you are there to network as a mobile app or technology solution provider, another thing to think about is having your talking points, and your device ready to take a product tour. You never know when someone will want a demo of your awesome solution!

Networking is the ultimate long game – it takes time to cultivate a relationship and heading to these events is only buying the seed, not even planting it yet!

Practice the tips above and watch your networking skills improve.

By Patrick Carlson