Top ten event networking tips

Attending an event can be daunting, particularly if you do not know anyone there. It does not need to be and here NCVO’s marketing and events officer, Sarah Porter, suggests ten tips to help put you at ease and make the most of an event.

1. First impressions count

The way you present yourself can influence others. Think about how body language and image can evoke a positive and memorable response. Reflecting people’s gestures and maintaining eye contact helps those you meet to trust and engage with you. Rehearsing an introduction referring to your achievements helps to create a strong first impression.

2. Make use of LinkedIn and Twitter

If you have the delegate list before the event, consult it to see if the list includes delegates you would like to meet. Prior to the event, research the attendees on social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Introduce yourself online and let contacts know you will be at the same event. LinkedIn profiles can include useful information about an attendee’s work, such as key projects and professional roles which might be relevant to your area of work.

If you do not have a delegate list ask the organiser for the event’s hashtag. For example, #Evolve2015 is NCVO’s hashtag for its annual conference. By following the hashtag on Twitter you will see conversations about the event. Use the hashtag to send out a simple message to your Twitter followers and let them know you will be attending. You never know – some of your existing contacts may also be going. This will allow others who are following the hashtag to find and connect with you.

3. Engage with online forums

If the event team has set up an online networking platform such as a LinkedIn Group, join and engage with it. You can start by letting other attendees know what you are looking forward to learning on the day and the types of people you are hoping to meet.

If there is someone from the online group you would like to meet up with on the day, why not look at the event programme and find a suitable time to meet during breaks, for example at an exhibition stand.

4. Know what your aims are

How many contacts do you want to make? What do you want people to know about you? What do you want to know about others? Giving thought to the answers to these questions will ensure that you make the most of your day out of the office.

5. Decide to get out more and don’t be afraid to start talking to people

This can be easier said than done. So start by approaching exhibitors that might be at the event. Exhibitors will be keen to talk to you to find out how they can help. This is likely to kick start the conversation if you are feeling shy.

As with the delegate list, names of exhibitors are often available before the event. Make sure you have researched who will be exhibiting, how they may be able to help you, and when you have time to visit them.

6. Wear your name badge

While wearing a name badge can seem a real faff, and you may feel you are more comfortable blending into the background, wearing your name badge is key to helping people find you on the day. You do not want to miss out on those conversations.

To help those you are meeting, try not to cover the badge with scarves and accessories. Wear it on your right side, so as you shake hands it is in their direct line of sight.

7. Try to talk half as much as you listen

Give the person that you are talking to your undivided attention. Prompt conversations with open ended questions that start with who, what, where, when, why and how.

8. Remember delegates’ details

When someone gives you their name imagine you will be asked to introduce them in the next 10 minutes. By taking this approach you are more likely to remember a name. It is a really great idea to jot down notes on the back of business cards about new contacts for future reference. I cannot count how many times I have swapped business cards and forgotten how a new contact can help me by the time I get back to the office.

9. Offer to introduce people

This is why remembering names comes in handy. Introducing others into the conversation helps people feel included. Also, you are more likely to make a positive impression and be remembered after the event. When introducing colleagues, ensure you highlight their talents and the importance of their contribution.

10. Follow up new contacts you have made

Using the notes from business cards, send new contacts personal emails after the event telling them it was nice to meet to offer a contact the opportunity to follow up the conversation.

And do not forget to continue to engage with social media platforms. The more presence you have the better!

Most importantly

Remember that everyone at the event is there for a reason and has interesting things to say. If you keep this in mind the conversation will flow easily.

To put your networking tips into practice book your place and join 500 charity chief executives and directors at Evolve 2015, the leadership event for the voluntary sector.


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Sarah was the marketing and events officer at NCVO. She managed our flagship Annual Conference and Trustee Conference.

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