When you shell out extra money to purchase event tickets to private receptions, you want get your money’s worth. Even if you’ve been given a free ticket, don’t waste it! Large conferences or conventions provide the opportunity to network with others in your industry, and you’re usually scrambling to meet with many people in a few days’ time. Whether you’re a successful executive on company expense account or a new entrepreneur trying to make your mark, you’ve probably learned that your best bet for rubbing shoulders with the right people is to attend a smaller function: the private reception afterward.
In many cases, you’re paying extra for special access, but the price of entry doesn’t guarantee success. Your actions and attitude when you enter the room determine how much you’re going to get out of the cost of admission.
How do you feel about the following statements?
• Networking means creating business friendships.
• Loyalty and passion lead to support in business.
• Emotional commitments generate more results than logical commitments.
Whether tickets to these events are, in fact, free, or only offered to a select few, or sold to the general public at prices excluding those who aren’t serious about their connections, private receptions tend to be more intimate events, offering greater access to VIPs. When you’re trying to build your networks, pitch ideas, or stay on top of events, the price of an event ticket for a private reception at a large conference is usually minimal compared to the payoff, if you know how to leave the right impression.
How are you going to make your mark?
You’re well-prepared with a stack of business cards in a neat carrying case, and you can speak eloquently about your project. But you don’t want to go in, throw those business cards around, and talk someone’s ear off about your big idea. Networking is about selling yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by starting with the attitude that it’s all business.
Consider two equally qualified candidates embarking on a job search. One prints out a hundred resumes and sends them to one hundred HR departments. The other approaches everyone he or she knows, discusses his or her skills, abilities, and objectives, and puts out the word: I’m looking for work. In most cases, the candidate who takes advantage of personal connections is going to get the greatest response. You simply get more interviews if you’ve been recommended by someone who knows you.
So, don’t buy a ticket to a private reception with the intention of dropping one hundred resumes into strangers’ laps. Drop the expectation that you will sell an idea or a product to the people you encounter. Instead, treat it like the party that it is, and use the opportunity to make real connections.
• Work the room.
• Introduce yourself to everyone; you never know who may be important to your work, or who can help you along.
• Don’t drink more than you can handle! Stay in control at all times.
• Establish yourself as an interesting and trustworthy contact.
• Help people find reasons to like and remember you.
• Remember: just because someone doesn’t have a job or an investment for you right now doesn’t mean they can’t be a valuable contact in the future.
If you give others a reason to invest in you personally, rather than your product, you don’t need to sell anything. When your colleagues know, trust, and like you, your product will sell itself. You don’t need to trumpet the merits of your ideas unless someone has a specific question. Just give people reasons to like you, and when they think of your area of expertise, they’ll think of you and recommend you to others, because they’re personally invested in you.
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