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ROC Weekly Marketing Minute
Networking Events: What To Do Before, During, and After Networking Events To Benefit Your Rehab Facility and Professional Reputation
Networking is important in business, especially for start-ups. It involves more than small talk at an event or building your LinkedIn followers; networking is an opportunity for you to promote your business, share your vision and goals, and connect with others who can inspire and help you, and with who you can work with in the future.
While it may seem straightforward, there are wrong ways to attend a networking event: If you show up without an agenda, without preparation, and without goals, the event may be a waste of your time.
Comparatively, if you are focused on your goals, have a list of people you want to connect with, and have done your research about the event, the organizer, the industry, and the attendees, you are likely to have an effective experience and develop meaningful relationships that can benefit your drug and alcohol treatment facility.
Tips for attending networking events effectively
Here is a list of tips you can follow when attending your next networking event:
Before the event
Have a goal: It is important to know why you are attending and what will define success. Perhaps you want to connect with an industry leader and ask them to accompany you to a brainstorming session, or maybe you want to build your network of local business owners to help navigate business ownership in your community. Regardless of the goal, be sure it is clear and actionable to help you achieve it.
Bring business cards: Having your business cards available can help with the exchange of information and will make you look more professional.
Dress professionally: While some networking events are casual in nature, be sure to dress professionally to make the best impression.
Do your research: Research more about the attendees, the event host, and any other information that can help you have effective conversations. You can identify who you want to build a relationship with and try to connect with them in advance. Reach out to them via email or social media and mention that you would be interested in meeting with them at the event. Try to set a firm meeting time, as a casual mention of meeting may go unfulfilled.
Engage beforehand: Identify if there is an event hashtag or event group on social media to review what others are saying and assess the attendee list. This can help you get involved in the conversation before the event starts and identify those with who you wish to connect.
During the event
Be ready with an elevator pitch: As you network with others, you will be asked about your role and business. Have a brief and effective introduction prepared to help you convey important information about your facility without a long winded and repetitive response. Be sure to also mention your most impressive academic and professional achievements.
Prepare some questions: Focus on your goals and prepare a few standard questions to ask new acquaintances. For example, if your goal is to create a group of local business owners, you can ask your new acquaintance if they are part of any local business organizations to learn more about them and segue into your idea.
Take notes: It can be hard to remember the details of every conversation. Once you finish connecting with someone, write their details and important points of the conversation to help you follow up after the event.
Introduce yourself to the organizer: By connecting with the person who planned the event, you can learn more about who is involved. They can also help direct you if you have any questions about the event or specific people. They may also be able to directly introduce you to others.
Participate in the event/sessions: You can help improve the impression you make and inspire others to connect with you by participating in the event and sharing your own ideas and expertise. This will help make you more memorable.
After the event
Follow up: A few days after the event, reach out to the contacts you wish to build a relationship with in the future. You can refer to your notes to help you create your follow up message. Be sure to personalize each email and mention something about your conversation. You can also propose an opportunity to reconnect in the future. If wanting to connect on social media, like LinkedIn, do this in addition to the email and avoid sending a generic invitation. To make a really impactful impression, consider sending a hand written letter to the people that were most important and whose continuing relationship you prioritize.
Try to connect in person in the future: Assess your calendar to see if any upcoming events or travel opportunities are in the area of your new connections. LinkedIn really helps with this since you can do a quick search of the area where you will be and and reach out to the people you know there. While you may not have a lot of time to meet, even a short coffee meeting can be impactful.
Share photos: If you took photos of the event, you can share them on any social media groups for the event. If you have photos of specific people, send it to them personally as a great way to keep the conversation going after the event is over.
Pro Tip: If there is someone who you are particularly interested in connecting with during the event, create a care package for them and send it to their hotel room. You can ask hotel staff to leave the package in the person's room. Be sure to include your name and contact information. They will seek you out at the event and thank you, providing the perfect opportunity for conversation and helping you to be memorable in the future.
Types of networking events
Here is a list of event types where you can engage in networking:
Chamber of Commerce events
Community service groups
College or university lectures
Breakfast or luncheon meetings
Community service groups
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