When you attend an event, it's easy to get caught up tweeting, live-blogging, and capturing content. However, it's important to take a break from your social newsroom and make time for face-to-face networking with potential clients and partners. Prior to an event, set tangible networking goals for yourself or your team. Spend time researching who will be at the event and identify any key attendees or speakers you would like to connect with. When it comes time for some good old fashioned, in-person networking there are definitely some approaches that work better than others. Remember -- you're dealing with a person that's right in front of you, not behind a computer screen. Here are four tips for marketers to keep in mind when networking at an event.
Know your pitch, but don't pitch it
Keep it casual and genuine -- each person you speak with at a networking event deserves personalized conversation not robotic answers. Feel free to discuss non-work subjects. Talking about family, hobbies, and food are topics you can never go wrong with and can spark longer discussions where both parties are able to let their guards down. If the conversation finds its way back to work-related topics, be prepared to talk about your company's achievements and work with clients in a relaxed friendly tone. No matter what, don't dominate the conversation. Keep it light and enjoy the back and forth dialogue.
More often than not, whomever you're speaking with will judge your company based on their impression of you. So to get the best out of a networking event, ditch the stuffy and overly perfected elevator pitch and attempt to marry your personality with your professional accomplishments.
Your company is your community
When you do talk about your company, leave out the "I's" and covert those to "we's." You want perspective clients and partners to know that you work well as a team and that you are proud of the teamwork you've accomplished. No one wants to hear only about your job -- they want to hear about the exciting new project your company is working on or the great office retreat you took last summer. When beginning any business relationship, you're allowing them to become a part of your community so it's important to feel the community love from the get-go.
Learn from thy enemy
The best part of attending an industry wide networking event is learning from your peers. Gaining perspectives of various aspects from other like-minded people can boost your business development and have an affirmative growth impact. Whether or not you agree with what is being said, it's business savvy to take into consideration all external mindsets, as those thoughts belong to your peer and direct competitor.
Networking is key to your net worth
We've all heard this before, but when you attend an event it's easy to bail out on talking to people and keep to yourself instead. Use this mantra to remind yourself that while networking might seem awkward or nerve-wracking, it is one of the most effective strategies for meeting people and developing business relationships. You never know who you will meet, who you will impress, who will need your services down the road, or vice versa. Attending networking events and meeting others is what fuels word-of-mouth marketing and keeps potential business knocking. Being able to talk intelligently about the inspiring work you have already accomplished when among your peers at a networking event often leads to more business -- full circle, guys, full circle.
Samantha Patterson is a senior marketing coordinator at Flightpath.
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