Active Production And Design Blog

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Take the "Work" out of Networking!

- Contributed by Brad Gibson, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Active Production and Design, Inc.

As the event industry grows, so do its supporting associations and memberships. We all want to keep our finger on the pulse of the trends, tastes, and talents of the best in the business, and many times that comes from attending association events and learning from our peers. But when your plate is full, an association or networking meeting can become another task on top of an already crammed calendar. So how do you make the most of your networking opportunities? Here's a list of suggestions for maximizing your networking prowess:

  • 1)Upbeat Energy. Keep the energy positive and genuine. We're event pros and we can sniff out a phony like a championship bloodhound. Every conversation you have should remain on the upside of the industry, your contribution, and on things that energize you. Even if you have to give yourself a pep talk before you walk in, get your head in the game. If you don't want to be there, your energy and demeanor will show it, and since you're going to be there anyway, make the most of it! Be present and have fun!

  • 2)It's ok to get personal… but not THAT personal: The best way to have another individual become invested in you is to let them know the REAL you. If they mention something and you have a personal story that relates, bring it up! But never get into the "TMI" (too much information) territory and try to avoid speaking about things that bring the mood down, this isn't therapy. Keep it PG and keep your opinions as neutral as you can. Talking about personal hobbies, your family (in a positive way, don't talk about THAT cousin, you know the one), and interests outside of work is A-OK and this will often be how the person remembers you from the dozens of other colleagues at the event.

  • 3)A little humility goes a long way: Ok, you're rocking out at your business, your sales have never been better and you're practically beating clients away with a stick! Great. You definitely want to talk about that, but there's a way to discuss this without looking arrogant, and that's by never making it about you. Example; when discussing your success, you may say to a colleague: "We've been very fortunate with our success, the clients are happy and we've been working really hard to keep them that way. Our operations team has really been stepping up and we are appreciative of them as well." You want the person you're talking with to know where your priorities lie. There are also likely to be professional competitors there, don't be afraid to chat with them! And ALWAYS speak positively of your competition. You don't have to elaborate or sell their services for them, but keep any remarks on competitors short, positive, and turn the focus of the conversation back to who you're speaking with.

  • 4)Make friends: I can't count the number of friends I know from networking events. Your energy will tend to gravitate toward the right people and that's usually for all the best reasons. Remember clients typically want to do business with people they like. If they become invested in you, they'll become invested in your business, and the icing on the cake is that you will have someone to go grab a coffee with on occasion or a familiar and friendly face at the next networking function.

  • 5)Relax! We've all been to networking meetings or mixers with the badge scanners. No, not a machine that scans your badge for entry, but the people who mill around the event space scanning badges, only wanting to chat with the people they feel can benefit their business. While this is true that you want to talk to potential clients, remember those potential clients are also seeing your demeanor and energy with everyone else in the room. Everyone has the potential to be a client, directly or indirectly. We've received business through a referral of someone else that I made small talk with at an event. Because of what they do, they are likely to never be a client, but a referral they sent our way has become a steady client. That series of events makes them as valuable as the client they referred.

Every Networking meeting brings new opportunities, make the most of them and have fun! 

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Look how FUN Networking is! (Image by PhotoSynthesis Studio)
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Friday, 10 July 2020