18 events in 13 days…
Apologies for the lack of posts these past couple months. I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve actually been having withdrawals from being able to talk with you guys and kept saying tonight is the night I’m going to stay up and do a post, but then those moments were typically followed by me falling asleep in a cab on my way home from an event. Yup, nothing says event season like a few cab naps…let’s just say those lucky cab drivers got a nice tip.
“How much? Here take this and keep the change so I can get to my bed quicker” Nothing like a 200% tip for the nice man who listened to me snore for the past 20 mins.
Anyways, I may still be blogging at 1am but I am officially wrapping up the last of our big event season at my day job and getting back in full swing with the blog and that secret that I’m revealing soon (eekk, so soon! Stay tune, more hints coming this week).
Ok, I have to stop before I spill the beans.
After some major event hoping (including this amazing Tablemakers Dinner at Crate & Barrel) and planning these past few weeks, it only seemed fitting to share a few of my top tips for networking at events. One of the biggest questions I get asked in emails and comments is my top tips for getting your foot in the door at a company and well, I’m sure you can guess what my answer is…NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.
Did I mention NETWORKING?
There’s a common misconception for many jobs that someone knew someone who connected you to someone else to help you get in the door, but that’s not the case at all for me. I knew nobody..literally nobody in Chicago so I networked my tail end off to get my foot in at my job and to meet some amazingly talented and creative people to collaborate with on my blog and grab cocktails with on the weekends.
Have business cards ready.
Have them in your pocket, in your purse or already in your hand. When you meet people at events, it’s important to have a business card handy so they can follow up and have your information to pass along when an opportunity comes up that they they you would be perfect for!
Say the person’s name out loud three times.
The key to event networking is remembering everyone’s name. You want to leave a lasting impression and addressing people by their name is key and a nice compliment to the person whom you were speaking with. It also helps when following up (more to come on this below). So while I am probably the worst person in the world with names, I have found a little trick that helps me. When someone introduces themselves, I reply with “NAME. So nice to meet you NAME.” and then try to say their name again in conversation within the first few minutes of talking. That way I have said the name 3 times out loud and will be much more likely to remember it when I see their face again or am thinking back to that conversation.
Set a goal of people to meet and do your homework before.
At events we tend to lean towards that comfort zone with talking to the people we know. Maybe it’s an after work event and we’re exhausted from thinking or it’s a weekend event and we have a million things to do that weekend so prefer to keep the conversation at minimal effort, no matter the situation try to set a goal of how many new people you are going to meet and research who is attending beforehand. For example, if I’m attending a panel event I’ll look into the panelist and make a goal to introduce myself to 2-3 of them that may be a fit for a future blog collaboration or have good insight on ways to succeed in my career. Pick a goal and stick with it, I promise you won’t leave the event disappointed.
Keep 2 topics of conversation in mind.
It’s important to always be in the moment at events and listen to the conversation but it is always nice to keep 2 back up conversations in mind in case the conversation dies at you still have 2 hours left at the seated dinner party. I always think of 1 thing I heard on the news that week (something mutual, not political, religious or too opinionated) and 1 thing that is going on in my life (just moved, got a new role at work, got a dog, etc.). These are often topics that other people can relate to or build off of to keep the conversation going.
Listen and ask questions.
As mentioned above, you want to make sure you are listening just as much as you are talking and that you are asking questions of interest. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking of what to say next, but you want to think of more what to ask next. Maybe they are talking about a new side hustle they are working on. That’s awesome! Tell me more about it. Where do you see it going? Be sure to ask questions to keep the conversation going but also show interest.
Follow up after the event.
Ok you pushed yourself to meet them, you remembered their name, listened and asked questions, now it’s time to head home and follow up. Send a quick e-mail to anyone who gave you their information and tell them it was great meeting, maybe throw in a line or two about the conversation you had (such as “can’t wait to try that new mexican place you were talking about. Will have to make a reservation this week!”) and then end with a reason for the follow up or that you’ll be in touch soon regarding “X”. Maybe you talked about a job opening at their company or a friend who has a contact with a company you’ve been trying to reach, make sure to follow up and get the answers you talked about in conversation or just re-introducing yourself so they have your info and will keep you in mind when a job opens up.
Location: Crate & Barrel
Table styling/event host: Lauren Kelp
Photography by: Aimee Mazzenga
What are your go-to networking tips? Anyone you’ve met at event that lead to a big opportunity?