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  • 18 August 2015
  • Eric Michaels

Networking tips: How to attend a networking event solo

Networking events offer opportunities for seasoned entrepreneurs and new small business owners alike. Whether you need to expand your client base, hope to find a partner for an upcoming venture, or just want to hire some fresh talent, you can make achieve your goals at these outings with the right approach. To get started, show up alone. These tips will show you how to attend your next function solo and network like a pro.

Always attend functions solo to get the maximum benefits.

  • Set specific goals. Each event will have a particular crowd in attendance, and your goals should be specific to that group. Whenever you have a certain person (or people) in mind, do the research necessary to engage that person in meaningful conversation. If you find yourself talking with someone who will not have an impact on your career, consider how that effort fits into your goals. Even though you may be having a good time, talking to someone who cannot help you is not why you came so it's best to cordially move on.
  • Be ready to share. When the conversation turns in your direction, make sure you have something important to say. You may have your next client or investor listening to you, so prepare a short pitch or summary of your business before you head into any networking event. You might associate elevator pitches with entrepreneurs, but as a small business owner, you may find them useful for finding a partner, a potential client, or for spotting talented people who can help your company grow. A polished presentation always helps your cause, especially when it does not sound rehearsed (even when it is).
  • Start with the organizers. The organizers of these events want attendees to connect with one another. Start making your rounds by talking with the people who put on the event and informing them why you attended. The odds are good that several others introduced themselves to the organizers with the intent of connecting as well; in that respect, the promoters may end up being your best allies as you hunt for contacts. Feel free to lean on them when you have trouble touching base with anyone.
  • Work the food table and bar. Nearly everyone will have some type of refreshment before leaving a networking event. Stand by the food tables or bar area to catch people on their way to and from concession spots. Conversations often start naturally in these circumstances. Even if you feel comfortable networking, realize that others may be feeling awkward. It will benefit you to bridge the gap and introduce yourself.
  • Move quickly between attendees. Since some contacts are unlikely to help you whatsoever, you are much better off moving along when you make the acquaintance of someone outside your field or business need. By all means exchange contact information if you feel a social connection happening, but consider the event to be a business function first and foremost. In fact, move quickly even after you meet a person of interest because there may be other people just as intriguing in the room. You can always return to speak more or get in touch with someone on social media later.
  • Make plans to connect again. Write down a reason for contacting someone when you note their contact information. When you meet several people in the course of an event, it will be difficult to remember the expertise of each. Give yourself a point of reference for each contact you make so you can have a meaningful dialogue later. Before parting ways, confirm the best way to contact him or her so there are no surprises.

Networking with others in your field can be extremely valuable. Always attend functions solo to get the maximum benefits. When you need to connect with talent in your industry but you are not finding the right fit, use the recruiting services of Hyrell available at a special price from the UPS Store.

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