Networking is an essential part of any entrepreneur’s life. While we all understand the importance of it, it isn’t always easy to do it. Some days we just aren’t in the right frame of mind for meeting and connecting with new people; other days it would be easier to just cancel meetings and stumble over our obligations because we are so busy. Unfortunately, given just how important networking is in maintaining healthy professional lives, it is important to make time to network and build up your contacts list.
By finding ways to make networking more fun, you can take a lot of the pain and awkwardness out of the endeavor. Not only is networking a lot more enjoyable when it takes place in a more relaxed and fun environment, you will find it easier to attract more people to an event if it is more than just another corporate get-together.
Here are some fantastic ideas to ensure that your next networking event is one that professionals from all over will want to take part in.
Break Up Cliques
Networking is all about meeting new people, but a lot of the time networking meets devolve into cliques where the regulars hang out together and socialize rather than making new contacts. If your networking event is one where a number of the invitees will already know one another, then try and encourage them to branch out and speak to different people.
Throw Out Some Conversation Starters
Meeting new people is often a nerve-wracking experience at the best of times. Having to also try and develop some kind of connection with them, so that you can help one another and work together in a professional context adds a whole other layer, which needs to be broken through. Anything you can do to make conversation flow more easily can be helpful. Of course, when we think of a free-flowing conversation, the first thing we think of is alcohol. Serving drinks at your event, if appropriate, of course, can be a good way of helping people loosen up, but what about those that don’t drink?
Offering some conversation starters will get people talking and allow you to direct things somewhat. A good way of doing this is to have participants wear name tags which, in addition to their name, say something like “I am looking for…” or “Ask me about…”. This way guests can easily find things to talk to one another about.
Some executives love to hit the golf course for a spot of networking. However, there are alternatives if golf is not your thing. This is a little more unconventional, we grant you, but hunting is a traditional American pastime and is also a great way of getting some exercise. Hunting is also a sport which encourages teamwork, cooperation, and above all, communication. Check out woodburyoutfitters.com for all your equipment needs if you decide to take some contacts hunting.
Networking can be an awkward and difficult experience for many people, but by taking a few simple steps you can ensure that any networking events that you run go off as smoothly as possible. Once you have perfected the art of hosting a networking event you will find organizing them is actually a lot of fun! And who knows where the relationships formed at your events will lead?