Attending events that put you in touch with other event professionals is crucial to the growth of your business and finally to your success as an event planner in NYC. Business networking events give you unique perspective on all that is encompassed in the event industry. It’s also an excellent way to market yourself amongst the best of the best. Here are some great networking tips for all of you who are looking to grow as event planners in New York.
Don’t Speak First
The trend is to need to burst into a previously rehearsed pitch to introduce yourself the moment you meet someone in a networking environment. The fact of the matter is that there is an advantage when you let another individual tell you what it is they do first. By doing so, you may discover that they do something that is right up your alley like own a venue that is in need of someone to plan their events. Whereas by initiating conversation, you may kill the chance to plug yourself into their needs because you may have started off with something like “I’m an event planner who specializes in weddings.” Yet they were looking for someone who is experienced in corporate events. Which you also do but you chose to direct your pitch in another direction.
The Rookie Mistake
You’ve probably heard a million times that it is a mistake not to take your business cards to any event you attend (or anywhere else for that matter) but even more crucial is knowing when to hand it over to someone you’re speaking to. It should be a part of your introduction in order to ensure that you don’t forget to provide it later on when the conversation has spun into a dozen directions. The last thing you want is to cross the person’s mind the next day, and when they go to look through all the business cards they received the night before, yours is the only one missing.
Keep it Moving
The rooms at a networking event tend to be crowded with opportunities but short on time. If you spend too much time with each encounter, you will only get about a dozen casual leads. Networking is a simple numbers game, so don’t get bogged down. If you can detect that the person you are speaking with will not turn into a solid lead, tell them it was great meeting them and keep it moving. If there is some potential there, assure to reach out to them another day. It won’t seem rude because they too are there to increase their numbers one way or another.
Have a System
The best guidance is to make sure you follow up with significant leads, but the less stated advice is to have a plan on how to do that. You’re going to walk out with dozens of cards but will you remember why you saved each and every one? Bring a reliable pen and jot down notes after each meeting right on their card. If your upcoming schedule is packed, make it a point to spend at least 30 minutes after every event sending out “it was great meeting you” emails. There is no one strategy to follow, just follow one that works for you.
Be a Connector
Not everyone you meet is going to be someone who can help you or who you can offer services to. Nevertheless, keep in mind that business networking is about lowering degrees of separation. Maybe you should present that home improvement professional you met to your buddy looking to make his living room bigger. For all you know that home improvement guy will have a client looking for a lighting person for an outdoor wedding.
Now get out there and start networking! You’ll be so happy you finally did it.