How to Get the Most from a Networking Event

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Digital DNA is fast-becoming Northern Ireland’s biggest networking event in the digital and tech spheres, bringing opportunities to meet with industry leaders, businesses and startups from Ireland, Europe and America.

Despite the potentially huge benefits of networking at this type of event, most of us are guilty of not truly preparing to get the maximum benefit from our time and money invested there.

Here we share our team’s top tips for how to get the most out of your time with us at Digital DNA…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Set Goals

As with everything in life, preparation is key.

Before you attend a big event it’s important to take the time to work out what you really want to get out of the experience. That way you can have a rough “plan of attack” for the day itself. Follow the event’s social media channels and keep a track of speaker announcements and agenda listing. Target what you want to attend, who you want to listen to or speak with and set more general goals for the day; be they knowledge advancement, business development, networking, or a mix of all three.

If more than one member of your team is attending it could be tempting to stick together, or you may find yourself unexpectedly in the same sessions because you’re all interested in the same things. A plan will ensure you can divide and conquer. Split up your time to cover as many bases as possible across learning sessions and networking time, and then share together when you’re back in the office.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Research Attendees

When it comes to keynote speakers, their names are easy to find and then it’s simply a matter of researching their career history and interests online, from their company website and news items to their LinkedIn profiles. However save any connection requests until after the event (see below).

Attendee lists may not be explicitly public but there are ways to find out those who may be attending and working out who you may want to connect with there. The event social media profiles will often share posts from people who have tagged them to say they plan to attend or have just bought tickets. Facebook Event Pages will also note the profiles of anyone who has listed themselves as “going” or “interested” and people may even begin using the event hashtag on Twitter before they day itself.

As well as researching people that you may end up engaged in conversation with, most of these events will have a larger conversation going on online. Participation in that before, during and after the event will widen your networking opportunities and grow your own profile. So make a note of the planned hashtag for Twitter, as well as usernames of speakers and people you’re hoping to meet, so that you can quickly post about it online and strengthen the encounters.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Plan to Connect

Now that you have a list of some people you would like to connect with, it may be an idea to pin point particular people and actually plan to meet them at the event. This isn’t the best idea for complete strangers who may themselves be busy with such plans, but when it comes to anyone you’ve tried and failed to meet in the past, someone you’ve known online but not yet met in person, or someone who has been recommended to you or introduced to you by a mutual business colleague, then this type of event can be a great time to say “Hey, we’re both going to be there, why don’t we plan to catch up over the coffee break at 11am?”

They key here is not to overwhelm yourself. Focus on quality interactions over quantity. If you’re rushing conversations or scanning a room while people are speaking, looking for the next “target”, this is going to leave a lasting impression on those you meet and it may not be a good one.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4319″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://www.eventbrite.com/e/digital-dna-2017-registration-31874865581?aff=articles”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Be a Connector

Again, general life lessons apply to event etiquette, and so it is as important to connect others as it is to be making connections for yourself.

Using social media or emails to introduce two attendees you know who don’t know each other, but would share similar interests or whose businesses compliment each other, will help them immensely in their own event planning. They may then reciprocate opening more connection opportunities to you in the planning stages before you attend.

This type of outreach can be a goodwill gesture with people who have so far been unwilling or prickly about giving you their time. It also strengthens your own positive PR to be seen as a selfless helper rather than a constant sales person.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Single and Ready to Mingle

OK, Digital DNA like most events is not a dating opportunity (at least, not that we know of!) However, the old adage is as relevant to networking as it is to partner-hunting.

If you stick together in small groups with people you already know, the likelihood is that you will meet less people outside your existing circles, massively reducing the networking benefits available to you. So try to remove yourself politely from groups of friends and, as uncomfortable as it can be, go it alone and introduce yourself to strangers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Practice your Introduction

With that said, introducing ourselves to complete strangers can be quite a foreign experience. It’s not something we do regularly in real-life and so we could do with some practice.

Brief introductions are a little like elevator pitches – practicing how to succinctly explain who you are and what you do will make these interactions much more comfortable and successful. Remember, though, that it’s as important to listen as it is to speak! So end the introduction with a question to continue the conversation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Listen and Take Notes

The art of listening is more important than the art of speaking when it comes to communications. When you do end up in a conversation with someone you planned to speak to, or even with an unexpected stranger, try to listen and take mental notes of what they’re saying. Asking questions will simultaneously make you look an interested and engaged person while also gleaning useful information that may be useful to you, your business or indeed, to someone else that you could connect them with.

With that said, most of us struggle to remember what we ate for breakfast! So don’t put pressure on yourself to mentally note every single conversation. Events like Digital DNA are packed full of information and so you will feel mentally tired by the end of the day. A good tip for this is to use any down time at lunch, between sessions or travelling home, to take written notes in a pad or on the back of any business cards received.

You’ll only achieve this if you put your Out of Office notification on and avoid the temptation to spend your free moments reading work emails.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Business Cards or Smartphone

Business cards aren’t an essential item but if you have them, it’s a good idea to bring them and share with anyone who asks for your contact details. Luckily, high tech events like Digital DNA will have processes in place to help people connect online (such as Q codes for LinkedIn that can be scanned from delegate passes).

One piece of kit you may want to consider bringing, however, is a portable phone charger. As well as the pre-event research on social media, it’s a good idea to follow the hashtag conversations throughout the day when you may spy posts from attendees that you didn’t realise were there with you. If your smartphone battery won’t hold out, come prepared to last the whole day.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Follow Up

Mark the time in your diary post-event to follow up fully on the connections you made, to really maximise what you get out of the day.

This might mean sending a follow-up email about a question someone asked, introducing two people that you promised to connect, adding business card details to your contact list or CRM database. This is a good time to make those social media connections with higher level strangers, such as keynote speakers or industry leaders. By doing it immediately post-event, you have relevant feedback and a genuine reason for requesting to connect.

Just be sure to do all of this in good time, preferably within the first few days immediately after the event. Not only will it reduce the risk that you forget what your notes mean, but it is good form, and encourages more positive responses while you, and the event, are still fresh in people’s memories.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Teach

And whether your team split themselves around the event, or you attended alone, it’s a good idea to take time to share your learning with the rest of the organisation. This may be in terms of contacts, industry developments, practical tips and tricks, or a more general discussion about who was speaking/exhibiting at the event, what they were achieving and how that might influence your own plans and goals going forward.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

So why not come and try it out –

Make connections, learn and develop your business with the best names in digital and tech from NI, the UK and abroad at Digital DNA 2017.

Coming this June 6-7 to St George’s Market Belfast.

Get your pass now!

We look forward to meeting you there…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2587″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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