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Five ways to survive your next IoIC networking event

44’s Eddie Gormley gives us his top tips to take the stress out of networking…

I’m off to the IoIC Central Region Networking Event on Thursday at First Utility in Coventry. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

It’s a great chance to get off the carousel for an evening, think about how to communicate with hard-to-reach employees and meet up with some former colleagues and potential customers.

But, for those of you who view your average networking event about as fondly as root canal surgery, here are some tips to help you survive (and maybe even thrive) from this grizzled networking veteran.

1. The first five minutes are the worst

It’s that sinking feeling you get when you enter a room full of people who are largely strangers. Pace yourself, however. When people arrive, they usually go and get a drink. So park yourself by the orange juice and see who comes along.

2. Be realistic

You’re not likely to land That Big Order after a few minutes chatting over the ‘mix and mingle’ finger buffet. Decide what you want to get out of the event and be happy with that. For lower-hanging fruit, try to find people to connect with on LinkedIn and make sure you follow up afterwards with a nice message.

3. Detail will go a long way

If you can, find out who’s going in advance, then have a nosy on LinkedIn. First, connecting a face with a name always helps me to see the person as a person, rather than just a potential new business contact. Second, find out what they’re interested in so you can talk about something relevant to them. This shows you care and you’re interested, so ultimately you’re more likely to stand out.

4. Open questions

People like talking about themselves. So instead of relying on the rather tired “What do you do exactly?”, go for something a bit more open. Follow up with “What are you busy with at the moment?”. Or even “So what about your communications is keeping you awake at night?”.

5. Be resourceful

If you’re seeing the same faces at the same events, consider organising a network event of your own and broaden out your circle. At 44, we’ll be doing exactly that in the spring. That’s a whole different blog so watch this space.

If you found these tips helpful – or even if you didn’t – then do collar me on Thursday and let me know what you think. I’ll be standing by the orange juice and I promise to be nice…

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