Networking events provide an opportunity for startups and small business owners to share their service or product with the world. You can create leads, get referrals, or find partners based on the type of event. Reaping these benefits, however, require tact and skill.

Many budding entrepreneurs attend these meetings and end up feeling like it was a waste of time. In some cases, it feels like everything they did out there was useless and ineffective. Here are five tips that you can use to maximise your next networking session.

Have a goal

It is easy to fall into the rat race of trying to collect as many business cards as possible. Irrespective of how great it might make you feel, it rarely pays off. Getting the best out of an event requires a strategy, and it begins with having a goal. Are you going to the event to prospect for partners, clients, or to learn from the invited professionals? Once you have a goal, you can work on how to achieve it.

Contact persons of interest

Most planners of such events will offer a list of the invited professionals. Alternatively, you can check online to find out if there is any persons-of-interest attending the event. Reach out to them before the meeting and ask if they would spare a few minutes for you during the event. Most professionals will gladly accept your request. If you cannot contact the person directly, find someone who can introduce you to him or her during the event.

Carry a business card

Some events such as speed networking do not allow you the luxury of explaining every bit of your business. Therefore, once your time is up, you can leave the other person with your printed business card. Ensure your business cards are of high-quality design and printing. Certain individuals will judge your product by the effort you put in the business card design.

Have brochures

If you plan to explain your products or services in details, then carry a company brochure. Just like the business card, your brochures should be of professional graphic design, they should also list your products and services, with a small blurb about each element and how your business can make this potential customers business grow or improve as a result of working with you. Brochure printing is crucial for highlighting your professionalism as a company, if you don’t have a whole lot of information to say about your products then choose A5 booklet printing for a smaller alternative.

Follow up

You need to follow up after the first interaction. Most enthusiastic entrepreneurs follow up by sending a brochure or printed booklet of their products. We would recommend that you also send an (on brand) graphic designed thank you note which is hand written and this creates the opportunity to plan another meeting.

So in summary for your networking events remember the following: Arrange meetings with attendees prior to the event, take business cards and printed company brochures. Finally follow up your contact with thank you notes and branding company media.
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