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As a small business owner or solopreneur, you may spend most of your time working alone or with a close-knit group. Luckily, there are countless networking events where you can meet other like-minded individuals and develop lasting connections. Networking events provide excellent learning opportunities that can be beneficial for you and your business. However, getting the most out of a networking event extends beyond the event itself. We’ve outlined some tips to help maximize your time before, during, and after a meetup or conference.
Preparation Is Key
If you want to make the most of a networking event, planning ahead is essential. Taking the time to prepare beforehand is a great way to boost your confidence, and confidence draws people in, which can result in more engaging conversations.
To ease your nerves, think about your reasons for attending an event and what you hope to achieve. If you know what your goal is ahead of time, you can take the necessary steps to ensure a successful event.
Generate Buzz With Business Cards
Always have plenty of business cards handy before a networking event. Give yourself enough time to get business cards printed if you don’t have enough or want to create new ones.
Your business card is one of the best ways to represent yourself. Exchanging business cards is a common practice during networking events and will make it easier to follow-up with the people you meet after the event is over.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Your business card can’t do all the talking for you, so you need to be prepared with a quick, intriguing explanation of yourself and your business. You want to spark people’s interest, but it’s best to keep it brief. It’s called an elevator pitch for a reason, and the general rule of thumb is that your speech should only last for about 30 seconds, or the duration of a short elevator ride.
A successful elevator pitch is one that is engaging and gets people talking and asking questions. Practice your elevator pitch, so you’ll be fully-prepared when someone approaches you and asks what you do. An elevator pitch is the perfect icebreaker and should help get the conversation rolling.
Acquaint Yourself With Fellow Attendees
Walking into an event without knowing anyone can be a bit intimidating. Fortunately, social media has made it easy to connect with people before meeting face-to-face. Reach out to other attendees ahead of time via the event or group’s social media pages. By introducing yourself early, not only are you making yourself memorable, but people are more likely to strike up a conversation with someone they’re familiar with.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable starting a conversation with other attendees via social media, conducting some research can also be beneficial. It’s best to know the type of people you will run into and what fields they work in, so you can think of potential conversation starters.
Plan Your Outfit
Planning your outfit in advance is a simple way to put your mind at ease. Deciding what to wear at the last minute can make you late or leave you feeling flustered, or worse, you could be stuck at the event in uncomfortable clothes. You shouldn’t be worrying about your clothes during an event, so be sure to set aside the time to find an outfit that will leave you feeling comfortable and confident.
Get Ready to Learn
Be ready to ask questions. Brainstorm a list of things you want to learn more about or areas that you are struggling with. You will be in a room with people who have gone through similar experiences and can potentially teach and inspire you.
Not only are networking events incredible learning opportunities, but you can also teach others a thing or two. Everyone who attends a meetup or conference is bringing their own knowledge and experiences with them, so there is a lot to be gained from every person you meet. For example, check out what these sellers learned by attending eBay meetups.
Keep the Drinking to a Minimum
Alcohol may make it easier to socialize, but you should always know your limits. Too much alcohol can prevent you from leaving a good impression, so it’s best to avoid overdoing it. If you feel awkward when everyone around you has a drink in their hand, drink seltzer instead, so you still have a glass to hold onto.
Just because networking events are great for your business doesn’t mean attending them should feel like hard work. While you should definitely aim to promote your business and learn from those around you, it’s also important to remember to relax and have fun.
Don’t Forget to Follow-Up
Be sure to collect business cards from everyone you connect with throughout the event. Write notes to yourself on the back of the business card in order to help yourself remember the person later. When the event is over, sort through all the cards you’ve collected, and follow up with the people you’ve met. You might run into the same people at different networking events, and if you’ve already reached out to them then they will be more likely to remember you.
Look For More Events to Attend
Always be on the lookout for more networking events. The more events you attend, the more you can learn and the more connections you can make. If you haven’t done so already, check out eBay Seller Meetups for opportunities to meet other local sellers and discuss all things eBay.
Save the date: eBay Open 2018 will take place July 24-28.
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