All networking meetings are different. Some you stand up and introduce yourself, some you just mingle. I would definitely have a 30 second intro ready. And I would take business cards to pass out. Don't try to meet everyone. Pick a few people that look interesting and introduce yourself. Start to make those relationships.
I have been going to a Chamber of Commerce function in my town every month for the past three years. I now know all the regulars. When someone new comes into the room I try to make contact. It takes time but it is so worth it.
I agree with Pam, different networking meetings have a different structure - I've yet to go to one where newcomers aren't made to feel welcome though!
Unless the event is purely 'open networking' then you will probably have 30-60 seconds to introduce yourself, so practice what you might say so that you feel comfortable. It's a good idea to have an 'elevator pitch', both for this part of the event and for when you are introducing yourself to individual people.
Business cards are usually a must, although with more and more people putting details directly into phones and tablets this is changing.
If you are nervous, just remember that everyone was in the same boat once, and nobody expects your first time to be perfect. The MOST important thing is just to be yourself.
The person running the event will probably introduce you to a couple of people so that you are not left floundering (I know I always made sure to look out for newcomers when I was running a breakfast meeting), so use them as a starting block and get comfortable, then move on from there. If it is a group you will be going to regularly, just take your time - there is no rush to get to know everyone.
I also find it is important not to 'sell' to people. Yes tell them what you do, but networking is about building relationships so get to know the person (and just because you think they won't need your services, don't disregard them - you don't know who else they know!)
I get 90% of my business through the relationships I built networking a year ago so it is definitely a good idea to give it a try.
I'm still very nervous about offline networking. I hope that I'll find a good network meetup in my area soon. It sounds exciting, yet nerve-rocking for me lol.
But hey, part of being an entrepreneur is taking chances and doing what it takes to be a successful business person.
I have scheduled about four networking events this month and I am nervous. I have also already scheduled two events next month through meetup.com. Found out this is a great website to find local events in your area to find other business professionals just like you. I think everyone gets nervous when it comes to networking events but I have found out that it's about building long term relationships, not selling your services right off the bat. When you build those trusting relationships, people will want to know more about you and your services and come to trust you.
I'm still nervous about meetups. I finally RSVP to one that was sent to me via linked in for the end of this month. I need to write my elevator pitch and practice it some. Meetup.com also has great information on networking groups. If this one turns out well, I will proceed to attending 2 per month to start.
i'm off to my first networking forum this month. i have been part of differnt organisations for a while that do them but i finally have organised my daughter so that i dont have to run off straight after work. if it goes well i will definately do more.
unfortunately for me my business cards arent here yet. i prefer business cards because you can put a bit of info on them, or even write something about the person that you have met on them.
also, a great tip that i was given is to email a few people that you thought were interesting, or could utilise in your work a few days later, just to say nice to meet you. keeps you in contact with the people that you can get potential work from.
I'm really wanting to get out and do some offline networking, but I feel like I won't be taken as seriously because of my current "situation." Help me out here - has anyone attended a networking event or conducted business face to face while pregnant? I know my abilities and strengths, but for some reason, I'm stuck feeling like I won't be taken seriously in person when seen pregnant. I've had situations where I wasn't treated quite the same in my career because of being pregnant and maybe I'm holding onto that.
I'm just curious if anyone else has been in this position and how you handled it?
This is a very informative thread! I have been to nervous to attend a networking but I see i have to take that leap! JHodgsonVa - I think that you being pregnant is no biggie. It's natural and beautiful. Life happens and it's a cause for celebrating!