PUSH PAST ANY FEARS OF AWKWARDNESS
You never know what you’ll walk away with from a networking event, so that’s why it’s important to try and block out any pre-conceived ideas as to what they are like or how you’ll feel in a room full of strangers.
What you have to remember is that you are all there for the same reason and as you do more events the less daunting they become.
You don’t know that one time you push your boundaries and have that conversation it might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for, or the chance to meet someone who can help you progress.
The rush of not knowing where a single conversation will lead or who you will meet should be something you should embrace each time you walk through the doors. If you happen to leave an event with very little gained, you’ll be way more confident and better prepared the next time. If you still nervous take someone you know with you.
BE OPEN TO CONNECTING WITH STRANGERS WHO MIGHT BE DIFFERENT TO YOU
Strangers are friends and business contacts you’ve never met. Obviously that’s a broad term, but if you aim to find common ground on anything music related, that’s generally a good place to start. Anything from there onwards will just add to the conversation.
Some people you’ll learn from, others you might help. Networking is about realising you are all there for a common reason; to grow your networks and to support and learn from each other with the common interests you have, as most networking events are built around sectors and key interests.
Music is the key interest with the monthly Brighton Sound Social events and the annual Brighton Music Conference event, both held in Brighton.
Whilst you should always go open minded to a networking event in terms of who you are likely to speak to, there are ways you can prepare so you leave with positive results.
Always ensure you get a look over the attendee list before you arrive if the event allows it. It means you’ll have an insider’s peak at who you might want to get a chat with, and anyone who might benefit you in your current stage in music.
If there is a panel discussion or multiple panels at the event, highlight the ones which you think will benefit you and make a point of being part of them, even if the end result is that you only sat and listened to the conversations and don’t dip in yourself.
Always make sure you get to the event in plenty of time so you can get a feel of what’s where so you can navigate around the various rooms and talks.
BE UP TO GIVE AND TAKE
Whilst you want to come across as being confident at these events and you want to take away things which will benefit you, remember you are there to help and give too. It’s not all about you and people will be quickly put off if they can sense you are only taking and not allowing the conversation to naturally flow where you would ordinally end up giving back, sometimes without realising it.
Smile, and remember to be confident when you are grabbing people’s attention and when you are chatting to them and don’t be overly pushy. Just be open, honest and relax to the best you can. Everyone is there for the same reason, so try and give as much as you take and remember to enjoy the event. So many people make these events out to be way more than they should and deals and won and lost over judging each situation wrong.
FOLLOW UP CONVERSATIONS
You’ve gone to all the trouble of organising to get to an event, sometimes you pay for the entry, you successfully navigate the talks like a ninja and get in front of a range of interesting people, and then you wreck it all by failing to follow up on the conversations you’ve had, or you forget what it was you were talking to that person about or why you said you would email them.
This is an extreme situation, but it can happen and as you get yourself to more and more networking events, you’ll soon remember that the majority of deals and successful conversations are concluded at the bar!
Whilst you might try and refrain from getting half cut in a bid to remember the multitude of conversations you’ve engaged in, you’ll need to devise a system where you can grab the people you want to chat to, not come across like a weirdo, capture their details and remind yourself what you are following up the conversation with.
Are you helping them, or did they offer to help you? Chances are it was both if the conversation went well, but it’s only with real experience that you’ll be able to network like a ninja.
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