I went to an event organised by The Hub the other night. Apart from trying to catch a non-existent bus and nearly getting lost in the wilderness outside St Agnes, it was a great night. I met lots of friendly people, connected with some useful businesses, and took the opportunity to hand out some marketing materials for my upcoming novel while I had an audience who couldn’t run away.
And I must just take this moment to say a big thank you to Danielle, the lovely lady who stopped and offered me a lift. I never got your card in the end, so I can’t get in touch personally, so I hope you read this.
This wasn’t my first experience of speed networking, but it was the first time I have attended an event solely focused on this activity. During the course of the night, several things became clear to me. I’ve presented them below as tips.
1. Bring your business cards
It might seem obvious, but sometimes people forget. Plan far ahead if you know you’re going to be pressed for time getting to the event. This is especially unfortunate at speed networking, where you don’t have time for a full conversation. The whole idea is to get people interested so that they want to have a longer conversation at a later date. They can’t do this if they don’t have your contact details.
2. Practice your elevator pitch
As the name suggests, at speed networking you have a very short amount of time to converse. Therefore it is vital that you can pitch your business quickly. Make sure you know how to sum up your business in a couple of sentences; whilst still getting people interested. It’s useful at any networking event, but ten times more so when speed is key.
3. Expect to meet a competitor or two
It happens. Sometimes you’ll turn up and there will be someone else there doing what you do. Don’t panic – they might have a different specialisation or target market. The businesses in that room might be too small-fry for them, or too large, where they are just right for you. If anything, knowing you have a competitor in the room makes you work even harder to sell yourself more effectively, and that can’t be a bad thing.
4. Bring a pen
If someone is interested in you, they might invite you to call, email them portfolio samples, or catch up at another event. It’s worth making a note of this straight away on their business card before tucking it in your pocket. That way, you’ll see it when you go back through the night’s haul of cards looking for potential leads, collaborators and services. And to make notes, you need a pen. It’s still quicker (and less rude) than pulling out your phone and making a note on that.
5. Let people know you’re planning to follow them up
If you’ve had an interesting conversation with someone, let them know you’ll be emailing. They might even respond by inviting you to meet for coffee instead. At the very least, it’s a good way of letting them know to expect to hear from you. And if their email address is a generic ‘hello@’ or ‘info@’, letting them know you’re going to try and get in touch could mean they pass on instructions to whoever manages the generic account to forward on your email. And we all know how hard it is to get past the gatekeepers without help…
6. Keep going after the event is over before you lose your confidence
When the arranged speed networking part of the event is over, find someone you haven’t spoken to and talk to them. After half an hour to an hour of talking to 20 or so new people, you’ll probably have grown so used to it that it won’t seem intimidating anymore. Keep it up before your confidence deserts you and get round those people you didn’t have a chance to speak to.
Stay sharp, relax, and enjoy yourself. Networking allows you to meet plenty of fantastic people. Sometimes you might just find yourself having a good old chat, but that’s OK. It’s good to have friends in the business world, and you never know what they might end up passing your way.
Networking is always beneficial, so let’s do some now. Send me an email for a chat about your marketing content.