Maximise your networking

Maximise your networking

Our tips for networking this season

Tis the season for networking with other professionals. Whether they are in your industry or a field you’d like to enter, networking is a fabulous way to expand your knowledge and contacts. But so often we waste our time at these networking events and conferences. Today, we’re giving you our top 5 tips to maximise your time and contacts.

1. Decide your goal. Working as a lawyer, doctor or coach, you’ll need to get a specific number of CPD (Continuous Professional Development) credits to keep your licence. If you’re in a different profession, your personal development shouldn’t be ignored! You may want to attend a networking event to gain insights into a specific topic or meet individuals from a new industry.

As you research the different events taking place in your city, do any of them fit your goal? Perhaps an event in another city or even a virtual one may be another option for you.

2. Review the costs. Many events are offered either for free or a minimal entrance fee, which is often due when registering. While some events charge a higher fee (often between AED 150-250/USD 40-68), they may also come with refreshments or a meal. Some events are only open to members and membership rates can vary from as little as AED 400 (USD 109) and can go up to a couple of thousand AED (and USD!) per year. Do you want to join the association?

3. Research the attendees and/or speakers. Depending on your goal, you want quality insights, knowledge and/or contacts. It’s no longer about just handing out business cards without learning more about the other person. Events with a presentation generally also publish a bio of the speaker. In contrast, getting a list of the already registered attendees may be more challenging. Call the organiser and ask them for it. If they don’t give you that, see whether you can get the job titles or companies to evaluate whether you’d be meeting the right people for you.

Show a genuine interest in the other person when networking

4. Prepare some talking points and/or questions. Once you’ve decided what you want to get out of the event, you may want to write down some topics and/or questions you want to discuss with other attendees or even the speaker. Having these prepared makes the introduction and building the rapport easier for you, especially if you haven’t been out networking for some time or feel shy at first.

5. Follow up. After an event, many of us don’t take the time to write a personalised follow up note. How often have you received an email that was just copy paste? Stand out from the crowd by firstly sending that email and secondly including something from your conversation or the event in your email. Be specific about how you want to stay in touch. If you’d like to meet them again, whether informally over a coffee or for a specific business meeting, just ask them.

Don't forget to follow up after networking

Finally, bring plenty of business cards. Last week, I had the unfortunate mishap (you can laugh now) of forgetting my business cards just before giving one of the biggest presentations of the year. Luckily, my friend went to my house and got them for me (thank you again!).

What’s been the biggest challenge for you when attending networking events or conferences? I’m looking forward to reading your comments about networking!

Until next time,
Agni

2 thoughts on “Maximise your networking

  1. Dear Agni,

    I’m not sure if it’s only me, but the biggest challenge I often face is the fact, that I don’t know who is who on such an event. Maybe I know upfront the persons name I want to meet (and maybe I’ve googled the name to see a picture) but it is still difficult to recognize this person (just guessing I’m at an event of more than 50 people). If I’m lucky, I survive the awkward moment of squinting on their name tag and finding the right words to start a conversation. But wouldn’t it be easier if have their details (email, phone no. etc) upfront, asking for a short moment of time during the event, just for an introdcution conversation?

    • Hi Mel,

      many organisers don’t share the list of attendees for data privacy reasons. It’s a shame as it’d make your preparation a lot easier and you could target exactly the people you want to meet. At the same time, it’s great to know not everyone will have our personal details!

      For your next event, write up a few questions as a conversation starter. These could be a compliment about their outfit (only if you’re genuine about it). You could also ask for their opinion on an interesting article that was in the national paper that week or a recent development around the topic of the event.

      Let us know how you get on after your next networking event,
      Agni

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