To succeed in tech PR, you must be a skilled networker. Socializing with strangers isn’t natural for everyone, though. However, by planning ahead, you can make any networking event less stressful. Buildings on our networking tips from last year here’re a few more points to remember.
Do Meet as Many People as Possible
Aim to meet at least five new people at each event you attend. Don’t discriminate either. Once you get a conversation rolling with someone new you may find yourself pleasantly surprised that this unfamiliar face is looking for someone with your expertise or knows somebody who can help you.
Don’t Exit Conversations Ungracefully
Sometimes a conversation doesn’t go smoothly, and there is an uncomfortable pause. That’s okay, but just remember to put a positive spin on the situation and exit the conversation gracefully. Something like, “well it was nice talking to you, but I want to make sure I meet a few more people before the event ends” helps you leave with your dignity intact.
Do Always Wear Your Nametag
While it may be an annoyance to wear a nametag, you’re doing the hosts a favor and helping them ensure no one sneaks into the event uninvited. Popular networking events often sell out fast, and there are always a few people who try to get away without registering. Don’t associate yourself with them.
Don’t Talk Loudly During Speaker Talks
Inviting industry speakers is a big deal, and you want to be on your best behavior. Unfortunately, you’d be surprised how many people speak loudly or partake in other disrespectful behavior. If you must speak with someone, then take that conversation outside or get their business card.
Do Stick out Those Uncomfortable Moments
You want to avoid being shy at a networking event, but sometimes a new venue can be intimidating. If you’re nervous, try standing near the food line, the middle of a crowd and by an exhibit booth, so people approach you instead. Wearing some prop like a fancy hat or a watch can help draw people to you too. If the event turns out to be a dud, just leave after 30 minutes.
Don’t Leave to Early
When you arrive at an event, sometimes nothing is happening, and it takes awhile for more people to come. If this happens to you, take a short walk around the block for around 20 minutes and then come back later. You could also bring a book to read while you wait.
Do be Courteous to the Volunteer Staff.
Many of the people serving your refreshments at an event are volunteering for free. Show some generosity by tipping them a dollar when you grab your free drink. The volunteer staff will appreciate it. Remember, even though, the drinks are free it’s still costing the host money to rent out the place and have an open bar.
Don’t be Greedy with Food or Trash the Place
You go to networking events to meet new people not to get a free dinner. Having a few drinks and appetizers is fine, but leave some food for everyone else. Lastly, be sure to recycle any drinks, plates and printed materials to avoid trashing the place. You’d be surprised how many so-called business professionals don’t pick up after themselves.
Do Refer to People by Their First Name and Make Good Eye Contact
An easy way to remember someone’s name is spelling it on their forehead when they introduce themselves to you or referencing a celebrity name. Continue to use their name in a conversation, so you don’t forget it. People appreciate those little details and help them feel at ease with you.
Don’t Hand out Your Business Card Right Away
Business cards are essential for networking events, but you don’t have to hand them out immediately. Take some time to get to know the person first and then offer yours once the conversation reaches its peak. When it comes to expanding your network, it’s the quality of new connections you meet that’s is more important than the quantity.
Do Thank the Host and Leave Feedback for the Next Event
Successful event series don’t always start off great. Like a seasoned TV show sometimes it takes the host a few events and reviewing attendee surveys to improve the overall experience. So do take the time to complete a short survey and give some helpful feedback to the host if you get the opportunity.
Don’t be too Negative with Your Feedback
When you give feedback to someone, it’s important to strike an even balance between being positive and negative with your comments. If all you do is criticize or just say everything was great, then you’re not helping the host improve future events. So, when giving feedback point out something that you liked, what you disliked and if they asked for suggestions offer some solutions.
We hope these tips provide you with success at your next tech event and keep an eye on the BOCA Blog for some of our event recommendations this summer.
I wrote this blog originally for BOCA Communications.