Sorry, but good old mom was mistaken when she told you not to talk to strangers. How are you ever going to meet new people, find new opportunities or get new business if you don’t open up?
Many people dread going to an event where they know few, if any people. Planning and having the right frame-of-mind will make these gatherings fun —or at least tolerable.
The upcoming Northern Colorado Writers Conference will be a good chance to try this out. Chances are you will already know some of the people attending, so it shouldn’t be overwhelming.
When you attend any networking event, there are a few things to consider:
- What is your goal? Do you want to attract more clients or just seek people with common interest or occupations as yours?
- Will they remember you? Most events have many attendees, so you want to be memorable. Have a good elevator speech ready, AND be ready to listen to theirs. (See my elevator speech below)
- How will you remember them? I know you think you will remember every person you interact with at the conference. Right! When you get their card, (or later, right after the event) jot on the back of it where you met them and any follow-up you will do. Trust me, you will thank me someday.
- What do you have to give them? Do you have an old-fashioned business card, brochure or marketing piece?
- Do you have and ID? No, not for buying drinks, but so they can remember you. Wear a nametag. Sometimes it helps to have something other than just your name on the tag. I have been putting wordsbybob.com (my blog) on mine. It makes my tag unique and can be a conversation starter.
- Do you have “herd mentality”? If you attend with close friends or your critique group, don’t just hang out and talk to them. Spread out! You can see them anytime. This is your chance to interact with others.
Most of all, relax, enjoy yourself and see what happens. I do lots of face-to-face networking. For the most part, I have never met a psycho person or serial killer. They tend not to attend these type events, I think. (Just good people with the same trepidation you have)
Here is my elevator speech (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), for what it’s worth.
“Hi, I’m Bob McDonnell. I am a freelance writer and blogger. My focus is on newspaper feature articles. I have a blog, www.wordsbybob.com that explores the use, misuse and humor or words. How about you?”
See you at at the conference on the 26th and 27th.