Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
As an introvert, the idea of attending an in-person networking event can sometimes cause the palms to sweat! Add in a cross country flight from New York to Oregon for the WIPIN Conference and you could have the makings of a tongue-tied week long event. However, I understand that getting out of my house and out of my comfort zone are important ways for me to continue to grow my business.
Yes, social media and Skype and telephone calls can keep me connected to current clients and can help me connect with new ones, but there is nothing like the face-to-face interaction and the shaking of hands and sharing a cup of coffee or tea to make a connection. Remember that no longer is business-to-business (B2B) the way that customers want to connect with a company — it’s the H2H (human-to-human) connections that forge strong bonds.
What can you do to not only make the most of your time out of the office at a networking event? Here are a few things to consider:
Connect before the event. If there is an opportunity to talk and interact on a social media page that is specific to the conference you’re attending, then jump in, introduce yourself and start making friends.
Have your elevator pitch practiced and at the ready. This doesn’t mean that you need to sound like a robot and recite your elevator pitch every time you meet someone. It does mean that when given the opportunity to introduce yourself formally, you need to know who you are and what you do and be able to share that with eloquence.
Remember, everyone is probably a little nervous. If it helps to realize that everyone probably gets butterflies when they walk into a crowded room, then keep that in mind. Also, get to networking events and meet-ups a little early. It’s more nerve wracking to walk into a crowded room and find that everyone is already talking to others.
BONUS: Be a friend to others. If you’re in a group and you notice someone walking around by him- or herself, make a space for that person to jump in and be a part of the group you’re speaking with. Think back to what it was like when you were looking for a place to sit in the high school cafeteria and realize that is what it could feel like for a newcomer to a networking event. You just might make a friend for life if you include them!
(Photo Shutterstock Girl with cat working at home)