In todays’ digital, global world, making genuine human connections is becoming increasingly difficult. We have grown accustomed to the ease of sitting in our offices at our desks, or at satellite or home offices sending LinkedIn invitations with personal notes hoping to make magical meaningful connections with potential clients or employers. Although I see the value in staying connected over social media and other digital mediums, I personally am team “face-to-face” when it comes to connecting and growing our personal networks.
As Event Leaders in the Meetings and Events Industry we know that foundation of all relationships with our partners and suppliers is trust. Trust cannot be developed or sustained without a true human connection.
Stamp out Stigma!
Many of us dread networking and feel queezy at the thought of entering a room and making so-called “small talk” with strangers. What if instead you entered the room thinking about making new connections with like-minded individuals that will help you grow your professional network.
Be Goose and Find your Maverick!
Having a “wing-man” at a networking event can be very beneficial if you fall into the shy or introvert camp. Arranging ahead of time to attend an event with a client, colleague or friend can assist with introductions. Avoid travelling in a pack (more than 2 people) as often groups will not be approached by others seeking to make new connections.
Knowing is Half the Battle!
Knowing who might be there that you want to connect with can help you be more strategic with your networking. If you peruse the guest list ahead of time you can send a potential client or employer a note via LinkedIn and let them know that you look forward to meeting them at the upcoming event. If you are successful in setting meetings ahead of time make sure you prepare question or conduct research on their company so that you can carry on a meaningful conversation.
If you had 30 seconds in an elevator with your dream client or employer what would you want to say to them? What would you want them to know about you? An outstanding elevator pitch should demonstrate or accomplish the following:
- Let them know who you are (skillset, relevancy)
- Demonstrate that you know who they are
- Demonstrate how you can impact them or their organization with your ideas or opinions
Don’t Drop the Ball!
The world moves quickly and if you don’t follow up on a connection you made fairly quickly – I would say within 24 hours – it might be too late. For example, the morning after an industry networking event you could send personal notes via email or LinkedIn to the individuals you met and ensure that you set a date to meet for coffee or a phone call to discuss future business. Fast follow up is the best way to ensure the best reaction and response.
In my experience, great things happen to good networkers – participate in your community and commit time and energy and you will see ROI.
Director, Sales & Marketing, Anvil Centre | President Elect, MPI BC Chapter
A 20-year hospitality sales and marketing professional, Heidi honed her skills working for some of the best hotels chains in the world, including Hyatt Regency, Marriott and Hilton. After almost a decade in conference and convention hotels, she spent several years as Manager, Events and Conference at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) before coming to Anvil Centre as Director, Sales and Marketing. Energetic and positive, her career has evolved from hospitality management, sales and marketing to include event management. Her devotion to being a contributing member of a growing and evolving industry that is continuously setting new and higher standards for best practices is echoed in her extra- curricular work and activities. Heidi is a former Instructor at both the British Columbia Institute of Technology and the Art Institute of Vancouver and is highly active with Meeting Professionals International on both a local chapter and International Level.