Business events are back on, and for many of us, we could use a refresher to make these outings successful. There are different types of events happening in our communities: 1-on-1 meetings; dinner meetings; chamber and industry networking events; and more.
Here are our tips to make the most of your business events:
1. Do your homework so you can enter the event prepared:
What is the purpose of the event? What is the agenda and timeframe for mingling with others? Is there a guest speaker? What is their topic? What do you know about the speaker/topic? Who would you like to reconnect with at the event? Who would you like to meet at the event?
2. Networking skills.
Always arrive 15 minutes early before the event starts to allow for networking. Name tags should be placed on your right so when you extend your hand, the other person can read your name. Handshakes are back, however, not everyone is comfortable shaking your hand. Remember that handshakes are firm but not bone crushing and approx. three pumps. Always approach groups of 3 or more because it allows the group to comfortably invite you into the conversation.
3. During the event, know the dance between small talk and getting to the business topics.
Get to know others as people first and don’t jump right into the business topic. The goal is to find a point of connection. After we start to learn more about someone, then the conversation tends to move to business topics. Think of networking as an opportunity to open the door to future connections – it is not time to close a sale.
4. Meal etiquette.
When joining a table, stand up and work your way around the table introducing yourself to others. Don’t reach across the table to shake hands: we all have seen someone drag their sleeve across the salad dressing. In crowed tables, your bread plate will be on the left and your water glass on the right. Napkin goes on your lap and if you excuse yourself during the meal, then place it on your chair. A napkin on your plate signals the waitstaff that you are finished with your meal.
5. Before leaving the event/outing, be sure to thank your host and those at your table.
If you made a connection and would like to connect after the event, clarify the next steps, i.e. you will follow up with an email to schedule a time to continue the conversation.
6. Depending on the type of event, consider sending a handwritten thank you note.
If you are scheduling a follow up meeting, remind the individual where you met, your point of connection, and the topic for your conversation. Make it easy for them to recall the conversation.
Making the most of your business events requires preparation and a positive attitude. Focus on making connections with others and enjoy your event!
Go further with your networking skills with our Business of Networking program.