I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly, but it wasn’t until moving to San Francisco, starting Whimsy Soul and attending a lot of blogger events around the city that I became really comfortable with networking and talking to new people. Five years ago I couldn’t stroll up to an event alone, without knowing anyone… the anxiety! Now, my tune has totally flipped and I think events, conferences and any networking setting can be a lot of fun. But that’s only after a lot of practice and honing in on some key tricks. These are my 7 fail-proof ways to rock networking events to help you navigate your next event with ease!
7 Fail-Proof Ways To Rock Networking Events
Theses tips are for any boss girl, not just fellow bloggers!
Be the first to arrive
Early bird gets the worm concept applies here. I’m typically going to events to network with a PR person. Showing up halfway through the event is clearly more fun, as the party is already started, but being right on time is far more beneficial. Being early means you can take 10 full minutes to chat with that one person you really want to chat with (PR, boss, co-worker, potential client, etc) without interruptions of other guests. Plus, they’ll be grateful you showed up right away. Planning an event and then waiting for people to show can be so nerve-racking for the host, so being there early gets you extra bonus points.
Hold a drink for confidence
I don’t know why, but I always feel more comfortable and confident when I’m holding something in my hand, whether it’s food or a drink. It gives me something to do with my hands when talking to people as they then to be awkward.
Don’t get too drunk
But, make sure to not get too drunk at events. It’s easy when the booze is a flowing and it’s free, but remember to keep a level head and know when to cut yourself off.
Organize your business cards in a spreadsheet
I started using Google Spreadsheets at conferences and it was the best thing I did for myself. The second I get back to my hotel room, I empty my purse of all the business cards I collected throughout the day and pop the contact information into a spreadsheet. Who else tends to dump cards into the bottom of a suitcase after a conference? Your new contacts are really important, a spreadsheet helps you not lose that info. I personally misplaced almost all the cards I collected before even leaving the hotel at the last conference I attended, but I knew I had all of them in a handy spreadsheet, so it didn’t matter.
Nail your elevator pitch
This is 1-2 sentences that sums up you and your blog or business. Make interesting and true to you. For example, mine is “I own a lifestyle travel blog called Whimsy Soul and I live in San Francisco.” It’s super matter-of-fact, but effective.
Find a lone ranger
Whether or not you are attending an event alone, I bet someone else probably is. Everyone is nervous about talking to total strangers, especially if they are at a big event without knowing anyone. That’s why lone rangers make the best people to talk to because they’ll be grateful you walked up to them to start the conversation! While I don’t remember this, I apparently walked right up to a woman at an event that I’ve never met before and started talking at her. She’s now one of my best friends! That act is probably the hardest thing to master on this list, but once you get over introducing yourself, you can do anything.
High top tables are your friend (so is the bar and food table!)
I find that an easy way to make conversation is around high top tables, the bar or the food table. After grabbing a drink and/or food, I beeline to a high top table in the center of the room. Soon, other people will need a place to set down their plates and drinks while they eat and BOOM, got them trapped so they have to talk to me.
My biggest secret is wearing a peacock outfit!! I save it for (almost) last because it’s my best tip. I call wearing something flashing as peacocking. For example, at Alt Summit, the day I wore a sequin skirt I had over 17 people come up to talk to me about my skirt. 17 people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Something flashy is like a wingman. Make them come to you. Plus, you’ll be remembered and that’s so important in such a crowded conference! It’s easier to follow up with “remember me? I’m the one in the sequin skirt!” and “Remember me? I’m one of the hundreds of people you met yesterday!”
Know When To Leave
Lastly, know when to leave. Once you talk to THAT person (or persons) and have done sufficient networking, walk the room once more and head out. Don’t linger, it’s a waste of your time and reflects poorly on you. Plus, the earlier you leave with your mission accomplished, the sooner you can go home, change into pjs and cuddle with your cat! Just me?
I hope this helps you rock your next networking event! Go get ’em tiger!