If your New Year’s resolution is going to involve more business networking, you might need our Networking Edinburgh Tips, gleaned from expert advice about going to events on your own.
Don’t be put off if you attend some awful Christmas parties over the festive season. At professional networking events, everyone is motivated to chat, so meeting people is a lot easier than at purely social gatherings where there can be closed cliques or an awkward atmosphere.
1. How to Prepare for a Networking Event If the event organiser has provided a list of delegates in advance, research LinkedIn profiles so you have a head start in conversations.
2. Don’t forget your business cards.
How to Connect with People
It can be tempting to turn up a little after the start time, to avoid becoming the centre of attention in a near-empty room. Best to wait until the thing is has started, then slip in, unnoticed? Actually, no. By then, people have formed into groups and conversations are in full flow.
How to Start a Conversation
3. Approach someone standing on their own or talk to queue neighbours in the line for refreshments.
4. Good Conversation StartersKeep it simple. Introduce yourself and ask the other person what they do. If you’ve done your research, you’ll have a couple of follow-up questions ready. Even if not, don’t forget: you will connect with people better if you ask questions more than talking about yourself. The best conversation starters are all about the other person.
5. Your business card and a well-rehearsed elevator pitch of a couple of sentences, with 20-30 seconds of additional information if you are queried, is enough about you. Find out what you can about the person you’re talking to, their position and their business.
7. Talk for around 15 minutes and move on. You are there to meet new people and so is everybody else.
8. Finish up by saying you are going to get a drink, go to the bathroom or just politely explain that you are going to mingle some more.
9. Remember, networking is more like farming than hunting. Aim to meet people, learn a little more about them every time and build rapport instead of selling. Some people may never give you any business, but they might recommend you to others, offer you valuable advice or recommend a good supplier. Professional relationships are built on personal trust. Even if you don’t get anything tangible from the conversation or the relationship, you will have another friendly face to look for at the next event. That’s not nothing.
Staying in Touch
10. Follow up the same or next day. Connect on LinkedIn and/or send a follow-up email. Personalise the message for each person you met and let them know you look forward to meeting them again. Hopefully by now, you’ll really mean it!
Today, conquer networking events in Edinburgh, tomorrow the world!