What is worse than wearing a tuxedo to an event
when everyone else is attending in shorts?
I have said the same thing over and over again: before you attend the event, get to know the audience. If the audience is not right for you, you may attend, but it is unlikely that you will gain any new business. If on the other hand, you want to attend just to form new relationships with others in the business community, then by all means attend the event. Just do not stretch yourself so thin that another event will topple you. So the first thing you must do before attending is to find out who will be there. If there is someone specific you want to meet, then find someone who knows them and get a proper introduction.
A third party introduction will go a lot farther than just introducing yourself from left field. Introductions have a way of confirming that you are worthwhile knowing. Remember the person you meet should be the one that makes the decisions for his company. Do not try and get introductions from subordinates, this will not lead you too far down the path. These subordinates often do not have the decision making power and simply sit as influencers in the decision. I am not saying you should not form relationships with influencers, just the opposite; you need to first have the relationship with the decision maker who will allow you to work with the influencers.
Make sure you know exactly who will be attending the events and then find out their status within the company. The size of the company may matter to you, so make sure you know the size of their company before making any approaches. It is often said it is not who you know but who knows you that counts. So one of the items to plan for when attending an event is who knows you and who they can introduce you to.
You have now discovered who is attending the event and perhaps even why they are there. Most often you will find that attendees are there to get more business. Sometimes they may attend to hear the speaker as the speaker is often the draw. Once you have the audience analyzed, you need to prepare yourself not only for your pitch, but also for the questions you need to ask to get the answers you are looking for.
Bette Daoust, Ph.D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite, She decided to find the best ways to get people's attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the "Networking Queen".
Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in June 2005. For more information visit http://BlueprintBooks.com