Picture1There are some weeks that I find myself in a flurry of activity and networking events and others when I am working from my virtual accounting office. The networking events not only help me grow my business, but they get me out of the office and meeting new people and exchanging new ideas.

If you find yourself wondering if the merry-go-round of networking is worth it, here are a few steps you can take to make certain you get the most out of these events:

  • Plan ahead. Understanding who will be at the events and in which areas they practice will help you uncover who you might want to meet. Preplanning also means knowing what you hope to accomplish when you’re there. Do you simply want to collect and pass out business cards or do you want to make a more meaningful connection?
  • What can you talk about? You certainly don’t want to simply tell a new connection who you are and what you can do for them (although that is certainly part of it). Ask open ended questions to get to know the other person. Is she wearing a scarf or piece of jewelry you like? Ask about it. Has he been written up in the local paper or did he write something intriguing on a recent social media post? Comment on it.
  • Mutual sharing. When you’re meeting someone for the first time at a networking event, it should be a give and take type conversation. He should give you time to tell who you are and what you do and you should have the opportunity to do the same.
  • Pay attention when the person is talking. Don’t be scanning the room for the next person you want to speak with. Don’t check your email or texts when you’re in the midst of a conversation.

How do you prepare to get the most out of networking events you attend?

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