4 Simple Activities BEFORE Attending a New Networking Event

There are certainly benefits to professional networking. You have the opportunity to meet leaders in the professional community, get introductions to potential referral partners, new business, or much needed resources.  Have you ever walked into a networking event and immediately questioned whether you made the right choice in attending? Perhaps you realize the group is not at all what you expected or the event’s purpose is not in alignment with what you had hoped to achieve by networking. For example, the event might be of a purely social nature, making it difficult to have business conversations.

Time, resources and money are precious commodities. To ensure your investment is successful and generative, here are four simple activities you can do prior to attending any event.

1. Research the structure. It is helpful to understand the structure of the event in advance.  Will it consist of pure and open mingling?  Will you have the opportunity to meet and make introductions on your own or is there a facilitated structure?  Will there be a speaker sharing information on a topic of interest to you?  Will the organizers be offering a sales presentation (perhaps you will be sitting through a presentation of which you have little or no interest).  When researching the event, look to see who the host of the event is and reach out to them to ask any unanswered questions.

2. Know who will be there. Double check to ensure the level of professionalism, businesses and industries are in alignment with your work. If you are nervous about going to a new group, you might want to ask around and reach out to friends or colleagues to see if anyone is attending the same event.  Or maybe someone will be there whom you have always wanted to meet. Attending the same event is a great way to make the introduction. Once you know who will be there, contact anyone you know to let them know you will be there as well and you look forward to meeting them. You might put their mind at ease when they know you are going. Of course it is always helpful to invite along a friend or colleague to join you. They will appreciate the invitation and it could make integrating into the group easier.

3. Know the group’s philosophy and purpose. Do they emphasize relationship building, connections and referrals? Is it an opportunity to connect socially?  Some networking events are set up as a pipeline for the organizer to get more clients, which can be a good thing and timely, particularly if you are seeking their services or products. Ask your friends and colleagues if they have heard about the event, get their feedback and assess whether the event is a good fit for you.

4. Contact the organizers of the event and offer to help. Find out where the event is located and where parking is situated so you can plan to get there early to assist. The person organizing the event will be one of the most connected people in the room. They will appreciate your offer to help and you never know what your kindness will result in. It might be nothing, in which case, you did a good thing by helping or offering to help.

Being prepared for a networking event by understanding what you are walking into, who will be there, and what you can expect throughout the event will give you more confidence from the start and enable you to better leverage your resources.  These are just four ideas and I know there are many more ways to prepare before networking.

With which of the above do you agree or disagree?
What other factors can you suggest to prepare before attending a networking event?
How have you discovered information about networking groups before?
What resources do you use to research a networking group?

© 2013 CERTUS Professional Network / Behind The Moon, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include Sabrina Risley’s Bio information below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Sabrina Risley

Sabrina Risley is a master connector. She’s been hosting live networking events since 2004 and has welcomed 20,000+ professionals to those events. She shares her observations, insights and tips of how the top 2% of effective and magnetic networkers build their businesses. She also shares what NOT to do when networking. Get her complimentary e-book: Strategic Networking for Success.
Sabrina Risley

19 thoughts on “4 Simple Activities BEFORE Attending a New Networking Event”

  1. I go with the intention of meeting 2-3 people. I know exactly who I want to meet before I arrive. When I find them, I say “I came here specifically to meet you. I hear you are the best at _______, and wanted to ask you a few questions.” The purpose is to learn more about them and see if I can refer them business. If I can, I immediately schedule a one on one meeting to learn more about them and how to refer business to them.

  2. Sabrina, you always have the most amazing information and thank you for all you do. My favorite tips are to do research and to contact the organizer. How cool is that?!

  3. I definitely agree, being prepared for an event before you go will help you walk into the room with more confidence. Personally, for me, it’s about creating a sense of belonging for myself so when I show up I can really focus on serving others and connecting — not just feeling like an outsider and working hard to fit in.

  4. Andrea… I never considered how much some of these event prep activities add to one’s sense of belonging. Thank you for that perspective. You are our resident guru on the topic of “Community”… thank you!

  5. Sabrina (love your name btw ;o)… You are so knowledgeable, thank you for your fantastic tip. That is such a great approach, makes the person you’re meeting feel amazing and leads to outstanding conversation, interaction and referral relationship.

  6. I of course agree with everything you said! And the best idea, as far as I am concerned, is to know the host. They are your best “tool” for an event. They will help you get connected to the right people (if you’ve done the ground work to figure out who the ‘right people’ are first of course.) Another great article, Sabrina!

  7. Outstanding point Meghann… one must know who their “right people” are (aka target market or tribe) before someone can connect you to your “right people.” Thank you for contributing! 🙂

  8. You inspire me Sabrina! Love your tips and will definitely share them. You are right, there are so many networking events and new ones popping up all the time! Find the right connector , do the research, and ask a friend to go along to your networking event, only if you are nervous!

  9. Thank you so much Nancy. You inspire me as well and I love what you are doing for the professional community in Boulder. It was great bumping into you last week. 😀

  10. I agree with your suggestions. I also prep myself on the drive with positive affirmations that the event will be great by showing me the right people that might be a new friend, strategic partner or open a door to an opportunity that might be helpful to me. I love to help others in the same way so the event usually ends with a win-win, and I go home with a smile. So affirm and visual what might be the ideal outcome of attending the event. Then go have fun!

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  12. All good points Sabrina.
    I think it’s also important to remember that networking is not about walking into the room and collecting business cards. It’s about building relationships.

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