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How prepared are you when you go networking?

I was out on the networking trail the other night and, sadly, I was, yet again, surprised and disappointed to see so many of my fellow guests had simply ‘turned-up’. The fact that they were ill prepared was glaringly obvious.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that to get the best out of any situation, you need to do at least some pre-planning and preparation.

How would you feel if you went into a meeting or a presentation with one of your largest, key accounts, unprepared? I’m sure you’d feel nervous, stressed-out, sick, self conscious or even out of your depth, wouldn’t you?

Yet for many, this is how they approach their networking! With little, or worse still, no planning or preparation at all

Let’s look at just a few of the problems this may cause them

1. They leave the office late, because they didn’t block off time in their diary. This puts them under emotional pressure at the outset, and this stress simply compounds as other logistical issues raise their heads (Like will there be parking adjacent to the venue? Where am I actually going? Which is the best way to get there? What is the actual start time?)

2. They don’t know if there will be food there; if it’s a meal, a finger buffet, cocktail snacks or simply dry nibbles. I don’t know about you, but I can’t concentrate on my networking if I’m starving hungry, and I certainly don’t want to be consuming crisps and peanuts all night. Knowing this will help you decide whether or not to stop off at a Prét a Porter (or the like), en route.

3. They rarely plan for traffic delays, and therefore arrive later than they would have liked. This puts them under pressure when they walk in to the function room, as groups will have already formed and conversations will already be under-way. This means they are the ones who are forced to break in to groups which is quite a scary activity for those I speak to.

4. Arriving late also reduces the time they have to seek new business opportunities. Remember, most networking events are only 3 hours long. If you take off time for the welcome by the host and the keynote speech, you’ve often already lost an hour, so if you’ve arrived half an hour later than the start time that’s 1 ½ hours already lost, before you start. Add to this those who often escape as early as they can, either immediately after the snacks have been served or once the speaker has finished, and your available pool of guests to chat with has diminished

5. They have no idea who is actually attending the event, either from their own firm or who is on the guest list, so strategically they don’t know with whom they need to be meeting and developing relationships.

It’s all a bit hit-and-miss, isn’t it?

My advice?

Get yourself well prepared the next time you go networking.

You’ll see the difference this will make to the way you feel and the things you come away with.

This will work for you.

Posted in: Business Advice, networking tips, Personal Branding

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  1. Ken U. June 24, 2010

    For point #5, I think it’s advantageous to know a little about people before meeting them so I come prepared with some common points of interest. Even if I don’t have the opportunity to see the guest list in advance, I can still come prepared to engage new people. I like to talk to people before these events as a warm-up, and as a way to get into the mindset of being open and curious.

    I agree that preparation is important for networking opportunities, as it is for just about everything. Simply attending these events is only one of many steps needed to secure key connections.

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