As many of you have probably gathered by now, corporate events are much more than an opportunity to feast on free food and get tanked at the bar on the company credit card.
At one stage or another, you will most likely find yourself at an event which presents a myriad of opportunities to be exploited. Obviously, you should and would want to take advantage of this by putting your best foot forward.
Whether it is creating new connections with key colleagues, getting a foot in the door with new prospects or even building your credibility in your business community, here is my hottest tips to make you an event mingling super star!
The first thing everyone thinks about when going to a corporate event is the chit chat, small talk and the friendly banter. This can be very intimidating to the un-acclimated individual. In order to get yourself started on the right foot with professionals you don’t know, follow these simple tips…
1. Location, location, location!
Use the venue as a sneaky segway into a creative conversation. Often the venue of the event will be something of a talking point. If not, perhaps even comment on the trip to the venue. This is great because it is establishing a commonality with the person you are trying to start the conversation with. They will instantly relate, as they are also in the venue and it’s obvious to both of you. Try using an opener like, “Attendance looks higher than last year, how long have you been coming to these conventions?”
2. We made a plan, and we are going to stick to the plan.
Before even stepping in the door you need to make sure that you have a clear set of goals and objectives for the event you are about to attend. This will keep you focused and also reign in any wildly impulsive directions you may find yourself moving towards.
Tell yourself you are going to meet at least five new people and gather at least 3 viable leads for instance. Do not simply stick to safe familiar conversations with people you know well or those who do not compliment your objective in the first place. If you are approached by a current customer for instance, make sure you converse in a complementary manner and show genuine interest in the engagement. With this in mind have an exit in mind to go after those who could be potential new connections that would benefit your purpose for attending the event.
3. Be prepared for multiple contingencies.
Lock and load! Bring your business cards and throw them like ninja stars into the pockets of prospects that are galloping away from you at speed…..Just kidding! Having business cards is a real risk mitigator at events because it can get you in front of relevant people at the event in a quick and indirect way if you find yourself time poor at the time.
Make sure you bring your phone also, take photos of the business cards you collect and don’t be afraid to suggest a catch up at another time after the event. Book it in on the spot.
Be flexible and congenial to put yourself in the best stead with everyone at the event. Be sure to gauge when it is appropriate to present your business cards and so on. Sometimes it is best to connect via other mediums after the event, like LinkedIn for instance.
4. Don’t be a Jerk / Jerket!
Always be polite to absolutely everyone at the event. Even if you personally have no interest in talking to an individual, always excuse yourself in a very appropriate manner. Remember, these people may know someone you may want to know and word travels fast.
Make sure you hold your cold drink in your left hand to ensure when you shake hands with another your hand is dry, a wet hand could be perceived as rude or unthoughtful.
As another key point to number four on my list, always avoid slandering anyone or anything in any circumstances. Whether it is a product, a colleague or a competitor, it is a bad look to be dissing any of these and you will be seen as a negative Nancy. Even if it may be true, try to keep this stuff to yourself.
5. Don’t be the one that they have to cut off from the bar.
This may seem like a pretty obvious point, but some of you still need to be reminded.
Getting wasted at these events is a very bad idea. Your over indulgence will reflect badly on yourself and the organization you represent. Being sober and in control will also help you avoid saying something you will regret later, or heaven forbid, doing that public display of nudity that will be the talk of the office next Monday.
6. Remember the name.
Ok, this is where I personally struggle. Remembering names can be one of the hardest things to do when at events, due to the sheer volume of people you may be meeting. Using someone’s name to address them is always a great idea as it shows your involved in what they have to say and it becomes a more personable relationship between you and the individual. It is also a bad look if you call them by the wrong name so sometimes it’s better to simply avoid names altogether if you are unsure.
There are some tricks you can use to help with remembering names.
I tend to make a little story in my head about the person to help me remember, “Jerry from Derry, is the captain of the ferry,” for instance!
My other super tip I use often is to call people “Chief.” “Hi chief, how have you been?”
They ignore the fact you clearly forgot their name and go straight to the answer.
So there you have it! My top tips and things to watch out for.
Keep these points in mind and I’m sure you will do just fine at your next event.