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he purpose of all networking events is to extend your business or personal connections. At these formal or informal meetings, people talk about professional topics or have a casual, light-hearted chat. For this reason, it may seem to some that there is no need to prepare in any specific way for the event. It's not quite like that. If you want to make sure you don't miss your chance to make worthwhile acquaintances, you need to know what to bring to a networking event.
Further, I will tell you about five things that you must have handy on these occasions. There will be no standard recommendations like «Take a good mood,» «Dress up,» or «Don't forget your charisma at home.» That's pretty obvious. Instead, I'll talk about what helps me, my colleagues, and friends create strong networking connections with people from different professions.
Five ideas of what to bring to a networking event
- Office supplies (notepad, pens, stickers).
In our blog, we already talked about preparing for a networking event and briefly mentioned this one. However, there we did not say why it is so important to take such little things. Firstly, at such events, there are often professionals who share valuable information. Even if you don't hear anything new during the speech, you may develop 1-2 exciting ideas.
Secondly, even if you don't write anything down yourself, you might be able to lend these things to someone else. A spare pen, a pair of office stickers, or a notepad can be an excellent subject for first contact and conversation starters.
- Business cards and other solutions for exchanging contacts.
Also, don't forget to bring a dozen or so business cards. It looks more solid than a phone number on a napkin. Besides, your contact person will immediately see your business information, company name, job position, etc. If you don't know what to bring to a networking event, a bunch of cards will always be a good idea.
Just be prepared for other people to bring their cards, either. It could be a serious hindrance to forming a professional connection. Your card may get lost among the others, and your efforts during the conversation will be wasted. For this reason, I advise you to always bring a smartphone with a personal CRM installed. Such an app will enable a faster exchange of information, better organization of contacts, and monitoring of other information about the interlocutor.
And if the person you are talking to is still not very fond of innovative technology and asks for a visit card, you can have a car business card holder. Do not choose what to bring to a networking event; select both options at once. After all, it is x2 any result!
- A brief presentation about your services or other promotional materials.
It is not necessarily all that will come in handy during a conversation. But there are situations where people you are talking to take the initiative themselves and want to get to know your company better. If you find such contact, then you should have a short speech or several booklets with information about your firm ready.
Please note: there is no need to impose advertising materials during the discussion. It is likely to discourage a new acquaintance. If the opponent wants to learn more about specific services or products, it will be suitable to hand over the materials. What to bring to a networking event exactly? A few informational booklets, the story of your company, articles in the newspaper, etc.
- A list of questions for speakers and guests.
Do not be afraid to study the program of the networking meeting a bit and deepen the topics of the speeches. Such a decision can give you an advantage over the other invitees. You can ask your questions in public if you can. Or approach the speaker and start a discussion.
While others are frantically coming up with a chit-chat topic or repeating an elevator speech, you will begin to shine like a diamond. With a list of questions, you no longer have to torture yourself with the exhausting question of what to bring to a networking event.
- A list of books, articles, or podcasts that are relevant to the event topic.
In continuation of the previous point, I advise you to always choose 5-10 valuable thematic materials before the networking party. Why? If anything, you can recommend them to a new acquaintance and generate more interest in you. Those people who know a lot and are willing to share helpful content are always remembered.
Now you know what to bring to a networking event. It was a list of 5 simple things that my colleagues, friends, and I regularly use to extend our networking circle. My recommendations will help you focus on the quality of contacts, not the quantity. That makes it easier to properly organize information about new acquaintances or potential business partners for the future.