Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How To Work An Event

Tonight I'm attending a networking event, hosted by my professional organization, Women in Development. I thought I would share some tips that I've picked up from many networking events, to make the most of those precious hours.

1. Wear something memorable

Often times I'll meet and trade cards with people, and sometimes I won't remember what they look like, which can be a trip up when you run into one another again. I always pick one piece to wear that can be associated with me. It used to be a black blazer with turquoise embroidered flowers on it; it could be worn with black pants and a white shell and stand out nicely. Since the blazer had to be retired, I now try to apply the same color standout with different pieces; tonight I've got a beige dress with a robin's egg blue cardigan.

2. Have your business card ready

It's a little awkward when you've finished chatting and are ready to circulate again, and you have to fumble for your business card. Always wear something with pockets, so you can have one ready to hand out. Also, get a card case; it makes a nice statement to tuck your new friend's card into a case.

3. Be careful what you eat

You never want to greet your next potential co-worker/boss/business parter with spinach stuck in your teeth. Or cocktail sauce on your chin. When eating hors d'oeuvres, be sure to have a napkin or handkerchief handy, and if you have a wingman, feel free to ask her quietly, "do I have food on my face?" Also, try to stay away from messy food. I love bruschetta, but won't eat it in a professional setting unless it's small enough to eat in one bite. (This one comes from my mentor, who taught me that if you're out to eat with a donor, order a salad which can be eaten in small pieces and is far neater to eat than a steak.)

4. Circulate

Don't spend an entire hour talking to one person. Especially if you came with her. Say hi to people, don't be afraid to join a small circle, this is the whole point of the event. Don't be shy.

5. Make a goal

At WID events, a list of attendees is always handed out. I take mine, look at who is attending, and mentally pick out five people to say hello to, who might be good connections to make, either because I've heard of them, or because they work at an organization I'm interested in, or whatever. I don't limit myself to those five, but I do my best to find out who is most advantageous to meet, and figure out what I can offer them.

6. Follow up

I can't stress this enough. The day after a networking event, I look through my pile of traded cards and I write an email to every single new acquaintance. And then I look them up on LinkedIn, and see if they are interested in connecting.

1 responses:

Akilez said...

What do you actually do?

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All opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author.