Networking events offer an excellent opportunity to meet new people with whom you can form lucrative partnerships or get business from. As more and more of the business world goes online, you may find yourself attending a virtual networking event at some point. Here’s how you can prepare for the event so you’re ready to make valuable new connections.
Know Your Purpose
Before you go, clarify your purpose for attending the event. What do you hope to gain by meeting the people you’ll meet there? This will determine how you’ll present yourself, who you want to meet, and how to follow up with them.
For example, if your goal is to get new clients, you’ll want to prepare to explain the benefits of using your service. You’ll also want to create a target client profile, so you know which attendees have potential.
Test Your Tech Tools
Long before the event, make sure you know how to use the tools. If you’re meeting over Zoom, arrange a Zoom call with colleagues and friends, and familiarize yourself with its features. For example, you’ll need to know how to mute yourself when not speaking. You may also want to show someone your website or a document, so you’d need to know sharing features. You’ll need to make sure your internet speed and computer are sufficient as well.
Do Your Homework
Do some research before you attend so you can make the most of it. Try to find out who will be attending. Research them on LinkedIn or using Google search. Look for news articles or press releases. Find out what organization they work for and find a picture so you’ll recognize them.
You should also know about the event itself. Who’s organizing it? If there is a speaker or presentation, research that as well. If the event is based on a specific topic, read up on it.
Get Your Story Straight
Prepare an elevator speech. This is a short story of about 3 sentences that explains who you are, what you do, and how you serve people. It should focus on how you benefit others. You’ll use this story with each person you meet, so you can make a good first impression and they’ll understand the salient points quickly.
Prepare Some Conversation Starters
It’s good to also prepare some conversation starters. After your elevator speech, if you hit it off with a person you’ve met, you’ll want to keep the interaction going. The best conversation starters are focused on your industry, your or their work, or the topic of the event. Prepare conversation starters that focus on the other person and give them the opportunity to talk about themselves.
Brush up Your Online Presence
Check out your online presence before you go, as people will look you up if they’re interested in getting to know you better. Make sure your social media profiles are up to date. See what comes up when someone Google searches your name.
Have a Plan for Following up
While you’re preparing for the event itself, you should also have a plan for following up with people you’ve met afterward. You should send an email after the event, reminding them of who you are and making some offer to extend your relationship with them. Remember to focus on the benefits for them and not just yourself.
Consider Your Presentation
Finally, before the event starts, take a moment to think about how you present yourself. Even though you’re meeting virtually, wear appropriate clothes. Check your surroundings and what people will see through your camera. Attend from a room in the house where you won’t be distracted so you can give it your fullest attention.