How to Effectively Build Connections at Networking Events

How to Effectively Build Connections at Networking Events

Networking events are only valuable if you know how to build on the contacts you make at the event: make an impression and follow-up.The recent Young Entrepreneurs Challenge (YEC) hosted by the DEM Society emphasized networking, among other important aspects important in business (and, really, all career fields).

Quantity vs. Quality Connections

As seen in the highlights’ reel (below) created by BizMedia for the YEC, Christopher Carmichael, the CEO of Atendy, comments that the point is not necessarily to connect with as many people as possible, but to make quality connections. Connecting with one right person may be more beneficial than meeting all the attendants of the event.

YEC video

How to Connect with People During the Event

When I met Mayor Hazel McCallion for the first time at the YEC, she shook my hand and said, “It’s nice to see you again.”

I can’t decide if my face is too common that she’s already met it twice, or whoever she thought I was didn’t make a memorable enough impression, or if I make such a good impression that I embody all the awesome people she’s already met before. I’m quite certain it’s the first option.

The lesson to be learned: make yourself stand out, make yourself memorable. That way when you reconnect with someone, s/he can say it’s good to see you again and actually mean you.

How to make yourself memorable?

  1. Smile.
  2. Shake people’s hands and introduce yourself.
  3. Converse. Talk about the event, your work or your schooling, his/her work, but don’t be afraid to stray from work-related topics to more personal ones. Share anecdotes—just make sure it’s still appropriate for the professional environment.
  4. Hand him/her your business card. Ask him/her for his/hers.

Build on your connections after the event.

Business relationships are a lot like personal relationships. That cute girl you
met at the movies who gave you her number—you can’t have a relationship with her if you don’t give her a call. The only difference is that you don’t have to follow a “3-Day Rule” in the world of business networking.

  • Add your new connections to your networking sites. LinkedIn, for instance, is a great platform for keeping in touch with business contacts.
  • Get in touch as soon as possible. E-mail your new business contact the next day or at least within the week of the event. This way, you’re fresh in his/her mind.
  • Mention your meeting.  Remind the person who you are.
  • Bring up a memorable subject/interest you talked about and
    build on it. She recommended a business article? Read it and send her
  • your comments. He has a website? Check it out and send him your comments. Recommend a great website that might please him/her.
  •  Mention that you would like to pursue this connection.
  • Invite him or her for coffee to talk about trades. Say you will write or phone to request a meeting.
  • Say ‘thank you’. A simple nicety such as a thank you can go a long way.

Some business conferences coming up include UTM’S Undergraduate Commerce Society and Student Management Association’s Night in Financing and Marketing and NSpire’s National Business and Technology Conference.

Remember these tips and grow your business network. Connections matter, so build them. A final tip: don’t be intimidated. With business professional all around you, it’s easy to get scared, but remember that you have the potential to offer just as much as they do. Go out there and unlock it!

Make conference and networking events worth your while. Practice your networking skills, so you can be ready when YEC 2013 rolls around!

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