- Be awake! Even if you go to a breakfast meeting, you need to expect to be talking about your business within seconds of walking through the door!
- Be prepared – carry business cards, a notepad and a pen.
- Wear a jacket with pockets so you don’t need to bother with a handbag or briefcase (it isn’t easy managing a coffee cup while making notes!)
- Try to get a list of the attendees in advance, or at least on the day; make notes if you can, or immediately afterwards, either on this or on the backs of business cards, to help you remember who you’ve spoken too.
- Have a short talk prepared in advance – most groups give an opportunity to say a few words about what you do, and what you are looking for. Most are from 30 seconds to a minute, but some can be up to10 minutes, so it is good to have a range of talks pre-prepared so you are not taken by surprise. You could also talk about how you got into your business, or any particular challenges or successes. It is OK to read something out, although you will have far more impact if you speak from the heart. And don’t worry about doing this – everyone finds it nerve-wracking, and believe me, the more you do it the easier it will become. Speaking in a networking group is a very safe environment to practise presenting.
- Have a phrase prepared to enable you to walk away from someone where the conversation is going nowhere; remember, your time is valuable!
- Set aside time to follow up after the event. Preferably within 48 hours, contact those people you met and are interested in, and those who were interested in you.