Networking can be nerve-wracking. If you have an event coming up, here’s a quick guide to plan in advance how to walk away with some meaningful connections.
30 Days Before
See who’s going, says Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking: A Simple and Authentic Way to Meet People on Your Own Terms. The event organizer will often publish the names and bios of people who’ll be there, she says. “Get a head start by identifying who you want to meet,” says Clark. Contact the organizer and offer to volunteer, says Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector. “This will allow you access to leaders who can make key introductions.”
30 Hours Before
Do an internet and Twitter search of the people you want to meet, says Robinett. “Get to know what matters most to them so you can have something meaningful to talk about or ask,” she says. Reach out now via email, text, or social media to schedule brief grab-a-coffee meetings.
30 Minutes Before
Introduce yourself briefly to presenters before their speeches. “Don’t interrupt them if they’re getting ready,” says Clark, “but if they’re sitting quietly alone, go ahead and introduce yourself.” Waiting until after their session is too late. “They’ll be mobbed, and it’s hard to have a good conversation when you might get 10 seconds.”