Since networking events can be intimidating and hard to maneuver, we thought it would be helpful to offer some tips for optimizing your networking opportunities at CoLab or anywhere else.
- Introduce yourself. It can be easy to shrink into a corner or stick with the people you already know but remember your goal is to expand your network and make new connections. Introduce yourself to the event organizer and she can help connect you to others who might benefit from your services and expertise. Be friendly and authentic but don't try to meet everyone at the event, instead focus on making a few meaningful connections by engaging and asking interesting questions.
- Set reasonable goals. Make a realistic plan and try to stick to it. Do you want to learn more about the host organization, meet five new people, or lock up two new clients? These are different goals, and each requires a unique strategy that should at least be considered before you arrive.
- Listen and take notes. A good way to make a positive impression is to join a conversation with a comment that shows you were paying attention to the group you are joining. When you meet a new connection, take notes on their business card or a notepad so you can be more efficient and effective with your follow-up.
- Appeal to your audience. Don't give everyone the same pre-planned "elevator pitch." Consider why the people you speak to should be interested in what you have to say, and craft your conversations accordingly.
- Bring a friend. If you're a little shy, networking can be especially daunting. Sometimes starting a conversation is easier with a friend by your side so if you have a friend or coworker who's also looking to expand their network, consider attending professional events together. Remember your goals though and be sure you are motivated to make new connections and don't get comfortable chatting with the people you already know.