Building a network

Networking – Networking – Networking!

I don’t think there is a person working that hasn’t had to network at some point in their life. Networking is such a part of business that often times it becomes a huge portion of our job whether we realize it or not. It can also be one of the most stressful things for people to do so here are some tips for building a network or at least making your network opportunities work for you when you have them.

  • Make a goal list of the people or type of people you want to meet at the networking event. Believe it or not it helps you stay focused and it makes it easier to ask people to introduce you to a certain person or type of person if you know what you are looking for in advance.
  • Your appearance matters! Make sure you look professional and for goodness sake ditch the gum or spit out your mint before talking to someone.
  • It might seem silly but put your nametag on the right side. This actually puts your name in sight line when you shake hands with someone.
  • Its okay to observe the room before engaging in conversation. Some people like to talk to those people they know first but be careful you don’t get caught up and never move outside your comfort zone. *perhaps wait to talk with those you know until after you have met the people you came to meet first.
  • It’s time to be BOLD – introduce yourself and tell them you have been looking forward to meeting them. This is NOT when you go into an elevator speech about your business. It’s now time to listen and ask open ended questions like, “What brought you here this evening?
  • Always ask the people you are meeting how you can best help them. Perhaps you can work together or perhaps you know someone they should meet or maybe you can refer them to a resource they need. If you are truly listening to them you should be able to come up with your own idea on how you can assist them.
  • If you are being introduced to someone – always stand. It is a sign of respect. If you are making the introduction remember hierarchy. People of lesser importance get introduced to people of greater authority. For example, “Mr./Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce Mr./Ms. Lesser Authority.” Also, don’t forget to include a connector – like you both love exotic cars.
  • Names are very important. If you are meeting someone new, repeat the person’s name at least three times in your conversation so it sticks with you. If it is a difficult name, ask for the spelling and if you are saying it correctly. Don’t be afraid to admit you have forgotten their name and ask to be reminded.
  • DON’T hand out your business cards like you a professional dealer in Vegas. Have them accessible but only give them out if you are asked for your card.
  • Breaking into an existing conversation can be difficult. Pay attention to the ongoing conversation and break in when there is a lull in conversation then introduce yourself.
  • Breaking away can be difficult sometimes too so just simply say it was nice to meet them and promise to follow up with them within a few days. *If you make this promise – note it in your calendar before moving on to your next conversation and whatever else you do – don’t forget to reach out like you promised.
  • Its a good idea to limit alcohol consumption at networking events as anxiety can make the drinks affect you like you’ve had multiple.
  • Practice juggling a glass, a plate and anything else you may have in your hands at a networking event before you go. Remember to keep you right open for shaking hands.
  • Before you leave take a minute to thank the host of the networking event for setting it up and providing the opportunity for you to meet new people. It’s just good etiquette.
  • Last but not least – send thank you notes to everyone you connected with for taking time to meet you and reiterate your offer of assistance in helping them. Don’t forget to send thank you notes to people who referred you or helped introduce you to others as well. Let them know they helped you out and offer to do the same if they should ever need it.

Networking is about meeting people and connecting people. Smile, laugh, be personable and remember that they are probably just as nervous and anxious as you are. You can do this!


Chitter, Chatter…What’s the Matter?

An event is filled with all kinds of things happening at once but one of the things paid the least attention to is chit chat. After all events are made for teaching and educating, for laughing and talking so who cares if your event staff is chatting away the time while they are working

As an event planner if the job is getting done does it really matter that the caterers are talking amongst themselves as they oversee the buffets? Or that the photographer has stopped to talk with one of the bartenders? Let’s face it, this is an industry like any other, and event industry professionals know each other and often cross paths at various functions. It’s natural to become friends and use that time to catch up with each other. Think of an event as being the proverbial water cooler for people in this business.

The relationships are important and from personal experience we know that it is the strength of those relationships that can save an event planner when crisis hits albeit whether that crisis is situational or economical.  A wise event planner walks a fine line of balancing real relationship building against the wrong kind of idle chit chat. 

Your pianist is having a baby…that’s great news! The ballroom dancers are discussing the eccentric attire of the guests…Bad news! The DJ is hiring a new employee…fantastic! The stilt walker is chatting with the balloon twister that your client’s product is inferior…Disaster! It only takes a moment for someone to overhear something they weren’t intended to hear and you could have a catastrophe on your hands and never know it until it’s too late to stop the damage.

What makes skilled event planners is their ability to plan for every possible contingency and to know what to do when those issues arise. We tweak and correct things as they are happening. Essentially we stamp out the fires closest to us so that we aren’t left standing in a huge inferno wondering what went wrong. Don’t allow yourself to be blindsided by something as seemingly inconsequential as chit chat.

 As event planners it is easy to walk around an event and listen to what is being said. We do it all the time. The question is simply are you listening only to hear the positive feedback? Go a step further and actively listen to what is really being said around you. Stopping inappropriate conversation that you might not want overheard by your client and their guests can be just as vital to keeping a happy satisfied client as picking the perfect caterer and décor. Ignorance may be bliss but in this instance it just may be the straw the breaks the camel’s back.