Meeting people in person allows you to establish a personal connection, build trust, & establish credibility. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Many of us have an intense will they/won’t they dichotomy with the word “networking.” Real offline contacts have become increasingly important, while online social networks have become the standard, whether you want to advance your career or make new business connections.

This guide was inspired by the countless rave reviews Eventible has received from B2B marketers at conferences worldwide.

The next time you walk into a room of potential contacts, you’ll feel prepared for in-person networking because the guide will help you handle face-to-face networking situations.

Importance of Networking In-Person

Networking has several advantages in the corporate world, as stated below-

In-person networking can be a valuable tool for building relationships, expanding your network, and advancing your career or business. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Increase your confidence – Hardly anyone finds it effortless or natural to start a conversation with a stranger. You need to discover common ground to connect with. However, the more you engage with strangers, the more confident and courageous you become in doing so.

  • Building a support system – Doing so will ensure you are not left to handle life’s challenges alone.
  • It feels incredible to be able to assist others! — Helping others feels great, whether it is giving advice, feedback, or working together. Additionally, doing so helps to reinforce the connections you’re forging.
  • A fresh viewpoint – If you isolate yourself in a bubble, you’ll never develop as a person. Instead, surround yourself with people from diverse walks of life.

How to network In-Person

In-person networking plays an instrumental role in establishing relationships, expanding your network, and advancing your career and professional goals. Let’s look at the step-by-step process of in-person networking.

Step 1: Make a striking first impression 

i) Understand Your Who and Why

Prepare yourself and have a goal in mind. Think about who you want to meet and why before going to an event in the future.

In-person interactions allow for more personal and meaningful connections, as you can read body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues that can be lost in digital communication. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Before attending any event, check the guest list on the registration page. You may run into potential clients, mentors, or colleagues you want to get to know.

Set a specific goal in your mind. This will make it easier for you to plan well and stay focused at networking events. So your conversations will be more concise and in tune with your connections.

ii) Practice a few words

We don’t want to stumble over our words while meeting new people because we want them to like us. Even the classiest individuals occasionally become agitated. Many individuals worry about beginning discussions, keeping them going, and terminating them when the time comes. If those situations make you want to withdraw, take control by being prepared with reactions.

Practicing your words before attending a networking event can help you to feel more confident, communicate more effectively, and ensure that you make the most of your time during the event. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

You may reduce some of the cognitive load placed on your brain in the heat of the moment by rehearsing your replies. By doing so, you can concentrate on the other person rather than trying to figure out what to say next.

iii) Dress for success

For information on the dress code, review the event description. Ask experienced attendees or event organisers for recommendations if it isn’t stated. 

Dressing for success can help boost your confidence & make you feel more comfortable in social situations. Pic Courtesy: Freepik
  • Wear an eye-catching accessory that will spark conversation.
  • If you want to stand a lot, invest in comfy shoes for your feet.
  • Dress comfortably as well. An uncomfortable shirt is the last thing you want to be thinking about.

If time permits, set out the alternatives the night before to avoid rushing at the last minute. On the event day, wear whatever makes you feel most confident and at ease to make a lasting impression. Read our blog, A Comprehensive Guide On What To Wear To A Conference For Men & Women, to know more about this!                      

Step 2: Focus on gaining knowledge about others

i) Ask open-ended queries

If you only acquire one conversational trick, make it the ability to ask thoughtful, open-ended inquiries. They frequently start with why, how, or what, which calls for responses that go beyond a primary yes or no response.

Asking open-ended queries at a networking event can help you make the most of your time there, learn from others, and potentially open up new opportunities for your career or business. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Then, to exhibit curiosity and find out more, ask follow-up questions.

And you’re not just restricted to asking about your profession; you can also ask about their interests and adventures. During in-person networking events, curiosity promotes more fruitful interactions that eventually result in lasting friendships.

ii) Listen more than you speak

To network effectively, active listening is more crucial than verbal proficiency. Avoiding the impulse to dominate the discussion is simpler when you’re really interested in what the other person is saying.

When you listen actively and attentively to what others have to say, you can gain valuable insights into their needs, interests, and goals. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Even if you have mastered active listening, your short-term memory might not be dependable. Take notes on your conversations if such is the case. Since you will have the conversation details in front of you afterwards, you may provide genuine compliments or follow-up.

Actively listening frequently shows chances to put your abilities or contacts to work, assisting others in achieving their objectives.    

Step 3: Share more of who you are

The best part of networking events is leaving with a meaningful connection that advances our careers or businesses. It could be a job offer, obtaining a customer you’ve been after for months, securing an investor, securing a recommendation letter, etc.

But How do you go about doing this without sounding arrogant? 

i) What you desire, ask for it

Your strategy for using networking to acquire what you want is similar to that of most people, but it’s critical to demonstrate your adaptability.

A great way to approach making your next big request is by combining adaptability with confidence in your ability to complete the task. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

This mix of adaptability and assurance in your ability to complete the task is an excellent approach to constructing your subsequent major request. Be adamant about what you want, but convey it in a way that emphasizes the advantages for your listeners.

ii) Exit a discussion graciously

It might be challenging to know when and how to finish a discussion occasionally. When you’re prepared to move on but your discussion partner isn’t, consider grinning broadly and saying one of these things:

  • I appreciated catching up.
  • It was amazing getting to know you.
  • Well, I should return to XYZ
The key to exiting a conversation gracefully is to be polite, honest, and appreciative. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

It’s critical to keep in mind that networking differs from speed dating. The main objective is to make valuable, worthwhile relationships.  

You should always be courteous while finishing a discussion, even if you’re talking to someone who won’t let you say anything or is spending time complaining about their company. These closing remarks act as cliffhangers, allowing you to continue the discussion when you speak again later.

Step 4: Stay Connected

i) Always follow up

Making contacts in the business world through networking may be quite beneficial, but it only works if you follow up. After all, trading business cards is just the start of a relationship.

You must take the time to follow up with the individuals you meet if you want to leave a lasting impression.

Following up after a networking event helps to build and maintain relationships with the people you met. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

So how can you successfully follow up? Before meeting someone, send a tailored email or LinkedIn message. This demonstrates your interest in staying in contact.

Invite the person you met for coffee or lunch next to foster your relationship. After then, maintaining contact is as simple as sending sporadic emails, connecting on social media, or scheduling a meeting.

ii) Take part in the event community

Maintaining the new connections you gained at the in-person networking event requires continued participation in the event community. Here are several methods for keeping in touch:

  • Participate in conversations on the community’s online center.
  • Volunteer to help with local event planning.
  • Attend upcoming activities in the neighbourhood.
By becoming part of an event community, you can meet and connect with like-minded people and expand your network. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

A little mingling after a networking event in person is really beneficial for building contacts and expanding your network. As you get more involved in a community, you will build more meaningful connections and feel more at ease attending events in the future, which means networking nightmares will become a thing of the past.

In-Person VS Online Networking

In-Person Networking: Many people missed face-to-face interactions during the epidemic. They preferred having more casual chats while in the same space, looking each other in the eye, shaking hands, and doing so.

In-person networking allows individuals to establish a personal connection with others by meeting them face-to-face. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

People may find it difficult to network when seated in front of a screen. They frequently discover that using a screen creates a mental barrier that prevents them from connecting intimately with one another. Face-to-face interactions and reactions enable you to express your personality more naturally, which puts others at ease.

Face-to-face interactions also frequently result in more understandable communication. Instead of simply seeing a small face in the corner of your screen, you get to view the entire image, so to speak. Communication requires being able to interpret the body language of others. Meeting in person also eliminates audio latency and cut-outs when numerous people speak, allowing for simpler, more natural conversation.

Online Networking: Without leaving the convenience of your home or workplace, networking online is a terrific method to meet new people. Therefore, virtual networking is considerably more practical if you’re busy. Simply log in for an hour, then log out and resume your work. There is no waiting in traffic; the connection happens immediately. You could even network while wearing pyjamas!

Virtual networking can still be effective in reaching a wider audience, connecting with people from different geographic locations, and allowing for more flexible scheduling. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Virtual networking not only saves you time, but it’s also more economical. Attending networking events may incur additional expenses that only become apparent after a year. There is no need to pay for things like daycare, transportation, parking, coffee, or breakfast while using virtual networking.

In-person gatherings tend to promote companies in a particular geographic region. A virtual organisation, however, tends to be more welcoming to members from various regions due to its nature. Therefore, you get to network with individuals around the globe.

Networking During and After a pandemic 

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the way we do events and network in events. Many in-person events were canceled or postponed, and virtual events became the new norm. In this section, let’s look at networking in the pre-Covid era vis-a-vis networking in the post-Covid era.

Networking in the Pre-Covid Era

Our business world was straightforward: meet people in person, form relationships, and make lasting connections that may help expand your firm and the businesses of others as well. 

Pre-COVID networking was generally more focused on in-person events and face-to-face interactions, such as attending conferences, meetups, and networking events. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Most known networking included local, regional, state, and national conventions. In addition, there were happy hours, rounds of golf, industry papers, and nominations for each industry’s top executives. All of it was a type of professional networking.

All of that ended abruptly when the coronavirus epidemic forced everyone to relocate to a simulated online environment.            

Networking During and After Covid

While virtual meetings kept us connected for about a year, there are some creative ways businesses and people are making up for the absence of in-person networking.

During & after COVID-19 pandemic, networking underwent significant changes as people around the world had to adapt to remote work, social distancing, and other measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Many businesses started depending significantly on social media sites during the epidemic. Most utilised LinkedIn to publish blogs, business announcements, and updates on products and services. Others stayed in touch with their professional networking networks via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. All employees were urged to contribute work-related updates and initiatives that influenced the community.

Still, other firms felt that now was the time to revamp their website and add sections like portfolios, showcase projects, or add case studies to emphasise what has been happening to customers and other businesses.

The past several months have seen the emergence of a hybrid kind of business networking that continues to rely on online platforms like Zoom while also introducing live conferences. Many companies discover that doing this not only gives them a chance to spend less money on frequent travel but also gives them a chance to network with a more extensive selection of businesses.         

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the advantages of in-person networking?

    Some of the major advantages of in-person networking are:

    i) Meeting In-Person Will Help You Stay Memorable

People frequently multitask and depend on their mobile gadgets all day. Face-to-face interactions encourage us to concentrate and slow down compared to our social media interactions, where we are frequently interrupted and rushed.

Meeting someone in person also increases the possibility of sharing personal experiences and identifying shared interests or other factors that make you more memorable.

ii) Personal Relationships Promote Business Conversions

Normally, when speaking to someone, you look them directly in the face and pay attention to their nonverbal cues. It is simpler to establish confidence and reach an agreement when there is eye contact and body language.

A welcoming grin, a confident stance, and a solid handshake can create the slight difference needed to accept an offer.

iii) Communications Done in Person Are More Effective

Connecting with people online is simple, but it’s not the ideal approach to conduct conversations or close sales.

Getting through someone’s hectic schedule might be challenging, but a face-to-face meeting has already made this step possible. An email or online message could receive partial attention, be saved from being read later, or, worst still, be wholly forgotten. 

  1. How do you network better in person?

You must have an action plan that details your goals for networking and your strategy for achieving them. To create your relationship action plan, follow these steps:

  • List two things. The first one will be acquaintances you wish to develop closer ties. Examples include friends, coworkers, and exciting individuals you’ve met at gatherings. People you desire to meet will be on the second list. For instance, influential people in your niche, leaders at work, or people from a group you’d like to engage in.
  • Make a strategy of action. Decide what steps you will take to meet each person on your list or improve your connection with them.
  • Plan the most effective methods to engage with each person as you go along. For instance, concentrate on leaving a solid first impression if it’s your first meeting. Or, if you already know the individual, try to find methods to communicate with them more frequently, like scheduling regular coffee sessions.

As you build relationships and establish new objectives, frequently update your relationship action plan. You will establish contacts more quickly if you are more methodical in your networking activities.

  1. Is networking better in-person or online?

It’s ideal for striking a balance between the two so that your perspective is expanded. Either way, you may grow your business, interact with other entrepreneurs, and receive encouragement along the way. In-person networking is more natural, yet virtual networking is frequently more practical.

Regardless of the benefits and drawbacks, networking is crucial for growing your career. The most crucial step is to begin so that you can determine what works best for you and your brand.

  1. How to approach someone at a networking event?

    Here are some of the ways to approach someone at a networking event:

i) Introduce Yourself

85% of professionals claim that meeting someone in person helps them form more meaningful relationships. Approach other experts and introduce yourself. The easiest method to strike up a discussion is with something that appears straightforward. Give a firm handshake and flash a happy grin. Spend some time crafting a succinct 30-second summary of your brand, company, and objective.

Some business people prefer to exchange cards immediately, while others wait until after a fruitful conversation. Consider introducing your firm or profession on your business card.

At this point, you’ve already established a personal connection, and your partner may glance at the business card as you describe the mission and services of your organisation.

ii) Bring a companion along while you walk

Talking while moving may quickly establish a bond. On your walk to the subsequent panel or the snack table, invite a brand-new buddy to accompany you. This may be a terrific method to continue a conversation already in progress without missing the conference’s next phase.

This strategy can also be used to engage a wallflower in the event. Some businesspeople struggle with what to say when networking; if you see someone attempting and failing to initiate a conversation, offer them to join you for a little time. After you arrive at your location, the increased self-assurance will make it easier for them to socialise.

iii) Consider Reconnecting

As you close the conversation, suggest continuing it later. You could be considering purchasing their services, seeking guidance on landing a position there in the future, or believing their current project would benefit greatly from your expertise. Don’t forget to give the other person a cause to remember you.

  1. How to network at an event?

    Here are some of the best ways to network at an event:

i) Begin with those you are familiar with

You should start by contacting people you already know since it is good practice, and you never know where your present relationships may take you. Find out whether someone you know works for an employer you’d want to learn more about or is in a job sector that interests you by asking others around you.

ii) Be willing to interact with others

Make an effort to network at all stages of your profession, particularly when you’re just starting. If someone is unfamiliar to you but has a link to a company or job you seek, don’t write them off. The more individuals you get to know and talk to about your professional objectives, the better.

iii) Find opportunities

There are probably professional groups that you may join based on the sector or occupations that interest you. Look for networking events or professional associations catering to underrepresented groups.

If you’re new to networking events, see if a friend who shares your professional interests would join you. Your anxiety may be reduced, and your self-confidence may increase if a friend accompanies you. You could be pleasantly surprised if you approach the situation with optimism and a grin.

iv) Be inquisitive and ask inquiries

Meeting people who can assist you is one aspect of networking. The strongest professional bonds are formed when two people are interested in getting to know and supporting one another.

Ask insightful inquiries to learn more about the person you’re speaking to rather than just concentrating on yourself and what you want.

v) What to talk about at a networking event?

Step into the event prepared with a few conversation starters in search of the opportunity to meet some new people.

vi) Make the Right Queries

Asking a question that invites a response is an excellent way to start a discussion. Simple inquiries like “Are you enjoying yourself?” help to break the ice but do not promote further conversation. 

Encourage them to talk openly about their occupation and the events they are attending. Inquire further about the topics they appear enthusiastic about.

Acknowledge your lack of experience and let the other person fill you in on their networking strategy.

There are several panels, exhibits, and speeches during conferences, all of which provide exciting discussion topics. An excellent place to start is by asking them about food. You can get people to open up quickly this way, and you could even learn about a fantastic new eatery.

vii) Look for shared interests

A networking event aims to establish business relationships amongst strangers. You might be shocked by how much in common you share with the other businesspeople in the room.

Discuss the presenter, the event’s goal, or your common industry. Build the conversation around issues the other person is interested in; if they look bored by the presentation but excited to discuss the neighbourhood market, seize the opportunity.

Do not allow a discussion to get stale because you feel constrained by a script.

You could converse with prospective customers at a multi-industry gathering. Expand your network and interact with other professionals in your field. You could come across employment possibilities or possible business partners.

Use your similarities to draw attention to the other person’s distinctive or intriguing characteristics. Engage with the objectives and successes they feel like discussing.

viii) Keep in touch with them

Any networking event requires one crucial but sometimes overlooked step: follow-up. Send emails to everyone with whom you had contact. To help people remember you, mention a few things. Finish by extending an invitation to meet for lunch or future collaboration.

Networking events are the beginning of a more extended conversation and professional connection. You’ll soon locate other professionals with whom you click if you have confidence in your personality and the services you provide.

Key Takeaway

When it comes to networking, knowing the right people is crucial if you want to advance in the corporate world. Successful businesspeople prioritise attending offline, and online networking events since each has its advantages.

Scroll through the screenshots below, which were gathered from the Eventible database and feature attendees from all around the world discussing the significance and merits of networking.

It’s essential to expand your network of contacts gradually. Do not only ask for help when you are in need. If it has been a while since you last spoke, your contact could not remember you, or they will see right through it. Look for opportunities to connect with your network frequently. Send a congratulations message to someone if they have received a promotion or a new position. Share any content you come across that you believe they will enjoy.

One of the finest strategies for advancing your career is to have a robust professional network. You could be shocked by where it takes you if you start honing your networking abilities!

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