How to make sure you get the most out of attending an event. How to network in six steps.
Recently you may have seen on Instagram (@inspiringwit) I was lucky to attend a talk by stylist Stacey Clark at the first Creative Womens Circle event in Perth. Held at Many in Fremantle, I think I came away from the morning thinking about three key topics, the first- how important it is to collaborate, the second that you can do anything you want no matter your age and third that I need to keep networking! Stacey told us her unexpected story and how she went from enjoying setting tables at home to bringing Kinfolk to Perth and all of the other incredible things she does. While I will not go into detail about her personal journey, it did give me a few things to think about sharing in a couple of blog posts.
Not too long ago I talked about networking in the fashion industry, but this time I wanted to literally talk about how to work an event to your advantage. Something I was told this week was a revelation, when it actually should not have been…
Your invitation to an event is the ticket you need to access everyone in the room.
You do not need to justify that you are worthy of their time, your ticket in is that validation that you should be there. For you to be invited, someone has already done the research and decided this for you. (Not to say that in not being invited to something is solely because you didn’t make the cut, first people have to hear about you! Get the word out! Share what you are doing.)
1. Set goals.
Deciding to go to an event means you should also decide to work it. It is okay if you just want to go and enjoy every now and again, but officially hanging back with your buds does not gain you new contacts. Putting yourself out there is scary, it is taking a risk, but it gets easier with practice. Decide what you want to get out of the event before you go.
On the way to an event I rehearse a little, by trying to think up answers to some typical questions I may be asked and some I can ask in return. I say the same thing to my single friends who tell me they can not flirt, it is actually really easy, all you do is ask questions, listen, take what they replied and use it to ask more questions. There is no need to pout or act a certain way, etc, the only way to become unattractive to someone who thinks that you are is to have nothing to say. Have ever eyed someone across the room who was seriously stunning only to find that they had nothing to say when you eventually got around to speaking to them? Do not be that person!
What have you been up to? What do you do? Where do you want to take your work? I think it helps to have an ice breaker, like a fun joke or tid-bit up your sleeve.
3. Look the part.
Dress comfortably, make sure you are neat, clean, happy and positive, don’t send out vibes that you are drunk, messy, late, that your shoes are killing you etc. in short, make sure you represent your brand. Also make sure you arrive on time (or a few minutes early and are not stressed or starving!).
4. Introduce yourself.
You can step into a group, start by asking if you can join them and then introduce yourself or catch someone’s eye and add something into the conversation- later saying “I don’t mean to interrupt but…” then go on to ask someone their name, how they know everyone, came to be there etc. If in doubt, hover by the registration desk, food/ drinks area or look for others on their own and make small talk! Make sure to make eye contact, do not cross your arms, get drunk, and enjoy yourself. Also if you can introduce yourself to the key organisers or honoured guests, now is THE time to go and take advantage of their time- that is why they are there, just keep your introduction brief.
5. Hand out your details.
Make sure you have your business cards ready to be handed out. Since a lot of my connections are through social media, I try to make sure to take and upload an Instagram image or Tweet something at the event as soon as I can- that way if people are looking for images from the event using the official # if they want to come and talk to you they can look through your profile, scan the room and come and say hello, usually starting with “Are you @inspiringwit ? I just saw your Instagram photo and thought I would introduce myself”. This really helps to breakdown barriers and nerves of walking up to a stranger. Often it also helps to grow your social media community too.
6. Follow up later in the week
In speaking with someone at an event, the questions you ask should lead you to gage if your businesses can align and work together. Be sure to exchange details once you have sussed out the potential for collaboration then follow up in the next week with a short email to make sure you are memorable and show you were actually interested. Alternatively find them on social media, follow and comment saying how you enjoyed meeting them.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Let me know if you have any great tips/ stories below!