I left home in the dark for an expensive breakfast. Expensive in the sense that there was nothing hot for vegetarians. Cold, sweetened fruit salad is less than appealing on an icy day. That's okay because the food wasn't the draw. We were there to listen to a speaker and network.
Normally, you take your food when you arrive and chat with the people at your table. This structure rewards early arrivals and reduces line-ups. Here we weren't to take food until an announcement was made. That was an opportunity to apply the three tips to master networking events.
The TrioMost attendees were chatting in groups of two. Rather than risk interrupting, I looked for loners or larger groups. I went up to a threesome. To my surprise, they were all from the same company. They sold location-based search engine optimization. I wasn't a prospect but they took turns talking. I couldn't understand why paying them was better than following Google's five marketing tips. The trio omitted important details like proof and pricing. I couldn't possibly refer anyone to them.
Tips: Split up. Talk to strangers here and to each other in your office. Be novel. Demo your services (e.g., with an iPad, they could have done a live web search to see if I showed up). Give out business cards or a brochure. Sit at different tables.
The QuintetI sat at the end of a table of five. Only the person to my left introduced herself. She sat beside a colleague. Neither ate. I asked about her business but she didn't ask a single question about mine. She didn't offer her business card. As the event ended, she left without saying goodbye.
Tips: Don't sit at the same table as a colleague. Pretend you care or save your company money by not attending.
If you're at an event, you might as well use your time well. If the other attendees don't matter to you, be daring and experiment with a new introduction. Perhaps do a survey. Pretend you're the host and treat the attendees as your guests. There are many ways to avoid fumbling.
- Three tips to master networking events
- Are you a gatekeeper or door opener?
- Adventures in networking without ever meeting
- Business card etiquette
- image courtesy of The PAW Project (Colorado)
PS I'll probably return since I had three good conversations. Next time, I'll avoid groups of three and tables for five.