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16 Networking Event Tips for Beginners - The Ultimate Guide
Networking events can be intimidating, especially if you're new to the game.
The pressure is too high, you want to make a good impression, act naturally, and hopefully, make good connections.
But don't let that stop you from attending - these events can be precious for building relationships and growing your career.
To help you make the most of your first networking event, we've compiled some networking event tips on how to navigate through the event smoothly.
Let’s dive in!
Why Attending Networking Events Is Essential?
Networking events are always important, but if you are a beginner, they are even more crucial since they provide ample opportunity to forge new business relationships.
In addition, they enable you to:
✨ Expand your network,
✨ Stay updated on trends and developments in your sector,
✨ Gain experience in networking and fostering relationships, and
✨ Discover new job opportunities or business ventures.
What Does a Networking Event Structure Look Like?
Networking events come in many shapes and forms, less or more formal, but there will always be some kind of introduction from the organizer or event lead.
- More formal and usually bigger events are industry conferences, seminars, etc.
- On the other hand, speed networking events, happy hour meetings, etc., are informal.
Furthermore, if the event doesn’t have a strict structure, there’s usually a light buffet or drinks reception.
Head for the Bar
Speaking of drinks, positioning yourself at the edge of the bar is a good networking spot.
Many attendees hit the bar, and it is usually a bubbly place where you can easily start a conversation.
Again, you might be expected to introduce yourself depending on the event type.
I know this sounds so unnerving, but at least you’ll break the ice immediately and make yourself visible to all the guests.
If there isn’t a formal introduction, you need to take a deep breath and start mingling at your own pace.
For starters, find another solo player who is probably as uncomfortable as you are. This way, you’ll break the ice, and things can only go smoother.
What are Common Networking Places?
A common misconception is to associate high-profile or strictly business events with possible networking places.
On the contrary, “non-business” events can be a great source of networking opportunities.
1. Join Local Community Events
Participating in community and cultural events can bring you close to people in your and other industries, increasing the chance of networking.
Furthermore, people who attend the same community events as you probably share some of your interests, making the initial connection much easier.
2. Do Charity Work
Besides contributing to society and a certain cause, volunteering is a powerful way to meet like-minded people, which is always a plus regarding networking.
Furthermore, you’ll get first-hand experience learning to cooperate, negotiate and collaborate.
3. Attend a Learning Course
If you attend a learning course, you’ll get a chance to develop and work on your hard and soft skills.
In addition, you’ll be able to expand your network or be noticed by someone of a higher rank.
4. Visit an Employability Event
If you’re looking for a job or a career change, these events are valuable places because you can meet many possible employers or at least start building and growing your network.
Note: Having an NFC business card at hand is a great strategy to make yourself stand out more and exchange your contact info with more people.
In addition, it will make you look more professional and business-oriented.
In short, any event can be a networking place, so snoop around to see what’s happening in your area and pick the events that resonate with you.
16 Networking Event Tips to Try at Your Next Event
Preparation for each networking event has three stages:
- Things to do before the event.
- Things to do during the event.
- Things to do after the event.
Keep Learning: How To Prepare for a Networking Event - 12 Best Tips For 2023.
1. Arrive Early
Arriving early can be a great way to ease into the event.
You'll have time to get your bearings, find your way around, and settle in before the crowds arrive.
Plus, arriving early means you'll have the opportunity to meet some of the organizers and other early birds who may be more open to conversation and focus more on you.
2. Dress Appropriately
It's essential to dress appropriately for the event you're attending.
If you're unsure of the dress code, don't be afraid to ask the event organizers.
You want to make a good first impression, so make sure you look professional and put together.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
Before attending the event, set specific goals for yourself:
- Do you want to meet people in a specific industry?
- Are you hoping to find a mentor?
- Or are you just looking to expand your network?
Once you know your goals, plan your approach.
Research the event and the attendees beforehand and make a list of the people you want to meet.
This will help you stay focused and not be overwhelmed by running around trying to meet every single person.
4. Bring Business Cards
Business cards are a must-have for networking events.
Since this is your first networking event, knowing upfront how many business cards you might need is hard.
What certainly doesn’t make your choice easier is the fact that 88% of business cards end up in a trash bin within a week.
In addition, you are just starting, so you want to allocate your finances smartly.
So how to avoid being part of the dismal statistics and yet stay on budget?
Tip: The good news is that digital business cards, such as Tapni, enable you to stay on budget and maximize your networking opportunities with only 1 card.
Therefore, digital business cards are a one-time investment helping you save all the precious connections.
Moreover, you can integrate your CRM and safely store all your Tapni contacts and the related info.
And your contacts don’t even need to have the app. Great, right?
Note: Although you can make more connections with digital cards, you shouldn’t be obsessed with connecting with everyone.
Save the exchanging contact info of the attendees you had a fruitful conversation with.
5. Start With a Smile and a Handshake
When you meet someone new, start with a smile and a handshake.
Introduce yourself and ask the person about themselves.
People love talking about themselves, so asking open-ended questions can be a great conversation starter.
6. Engage in the Conversation
Listening is an important part of networking, but so is being engaged.
And that includes body language, too: nod your head, keep eye contact, etc.
Show genuine interest in what the other person is saying, and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions and look for opportunities to provide value or advice.
Actually, sometimes, by letting the other person speak more, you can learn more about them and see if you are fit.
ProTip: If you use digital business cards, you no longer need to take notes about interesting new connections you meet at the event.
So, if the other person is also using a digital card, you can immediately get all the additional info you may need.
7. Don't Monopolize the Conversation
While sharing information about yourself is important, don't monopolize the conversation.
Be mindful of the other person's time, and make sure you're not dominating the conversation.
Keep it balanced and show that you're interested in what they have to say.
8. Be Amiable
If you are already in conversation, be friendly and polite. It is one way to make people open more and build trust - the basis for every business endeavor.
9. Be Yourself
Yes, we all want to make a great first impression and present ourselves in the best possible light, but you can’t build meaningful business relationships on a lie.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
You might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it will at least eliminate connections you probably wouldn’t be able to work with.
However, it will open the door to connections that appreciate you for who you are.
10. Join the Ongoing Conversation
It sounds nerve-wracking, but there is nothing wrong with joining an ongoing conversation.
Of course, you should wait for a natural break in the conversation and just storm in.
The participants often welcome the break since they can meet a new possible connection.
11. Compare Networks
Although you are just starting your networking journey, it doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable connections.
Even if you can’t directly help a new contact or vice versa, it doesn’t mean someone from your circle of connections can’t help.
And along the same line is the following tip.
12. Spread Your Network
If you are truly engaged in a conversation and ask questions, you’ll realize much quicker which person from your network might fit your speaker well.
And a result?
Your new contact will probably do the same for you.
By referring your contacts, you can actually grow your network in a natural and not pushy way.
13. Choose the Events Wisely
It is tempting even for more seasoned “networkers” to refrain from attending every possible event.
This is especially true since virtual events started taking place, making it even easier to attend everything under the sun.
But don’t fall into that trap.
You don’t need to run like a chicken without a head trying to be everywhere.
On the contrary, study and find events relevant to your current goals ( remember tip 3).
Initially, you’ll probably attend a great number of events to test the waters, but after that period, you’d better stick to a few events.
Why? By being regular at the events, you’ll gradually become something of a household name.
People will already know you and refer new attendees to you if they think a mutual fit exists.
14. Don't be Afraid to Attend Events Alone
Finally, don't be afraid to attend networking events alone.
Going to an event without a friend or colleague can be daunting, but it can also be a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
On the other hand, it will force you to meet someone to talk with.
15. Stay Organized
Keep track of the people you meet at the event to make it easier to find them later and to know who they are.
Meeting lots of new faces is overwhelming, so you need to find a system to keep all new contacts organized in a meaningful way.
ProTip: Did you know that with an app such as Tapni, you can organize your contacts into separate lists and add tags to them?
This way, it will be easy to retrace them later.
Furthermore, you can easily move and reorganize contacts into new groups.
16. Follow Up After the Event
After the event, make sure to follow up with the people you met.
You can send them an email or a LinkedIn message thanking them for their time and mentioning something specific from your conversation to remind them of yourself.
ProTip: If you have a Tapni Business Account connected to your CRM, you can schedule follow-up reminders to easily get in touch with your new contacts and take the initiative.
Well done, you! 🥇 You’ve just survived your first networking event, and we hope our networking event tips helped.
The Key Takeaways
Whether it’s a small informal gathering or a large professional event, it’s important to know how to make a good first impression, join conversations, and exchange contact information.
However, with so many things to keep track of, it’s good to have a solution that can help you maximize your networking results and facilitate many of the steps we’ve covered.
So how can Tapni help you with this?
🔥 You can create unique and fully customizable digital business cards and accessories. All Tapni’s products have NFC chips and QR codes.
🔥 You can easily share your card in multiple ways, via email, as an URL, by scanning or tapping, etc.
🔥 Organize your new contacts into meaningful editable lists.
🔥 Scan and add info from paper business cards.
🔥 Put a direct link, for example, a link to your LinkedIn profile, which will directly lead new contacts to the profile in question.
🔥 Schedule follow-up reminders on your phone so you don’t miss reaching out to your new contacts.
🔥 Automatically send messages after the events to people who visited your profile.
🔥 And so much more.
Create your Tapni digital business card today and be ready to rock at your next networking event.
1. Which Topics Should I Avoid During the Event?
You should avoid topics such as finances, politics, religion, sex, life and death, appearance, and sensitive comments.
Instead, go for the weather, local restaurants, trivia, travel, work, and similar topics.
2. How do I Prepare for My First Networking Event?
You should study the event and the attendees and prepare your elevator pitch and business cards to distribute.
3. How do You Stand Out at a Networking Event?
By making an interesting and unique digital business card, by not being afraid to join in conversations and ask questions, and by providing value or your network.
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