Chances are, as a Staffing Professional, you either have attended or plan to attend some sort of networking event. Even in today’s digital world, face-to-face marketing is still a very valuable tool, and you want to make the most of your time and money. Whether you are setting up a booth at a national trade show or attending a local dinner event, there are a few networking event best practices you can use to make the most of your next event.

1. Have a goal: Are you looking to generate a specific number of sales leads? Are you hoping to make contacts within a specific organization? Before you actually get to the event, have a specific goal for what you are hoping to accomplish. Make sure it’s realistic and attainable. It may not be realistic to receive a job order, but you could land an appointment.

2. Listen: Have you ever had this happen? You meet Joe from Premium Solutions- and all he can talk about is his company and his products. Meanwhile, you can’t get a word in edgewise or get away. Don’t be that guy! When meeting new people ask questions and then…listen. Have a conversation. It doesn’t always have to be about business either. Try to find the common interests between you and start building relationships. Isn’t that what networking is all about?

3. Introduce yourself: Don’t only speak with those people you already know. It is a networking event after all. If you don’t feel comfortable walking up to someone you don’t know, ask for introductions from those you do know. You won’t receive any new job orders by being shy.

4. Exchange contact information: Bring business cards, or if you have a smartphone, get an app that makes it easy to share you information digitally. At the very least, bring something to write on. After the event, drop your new contacts an email letting them know how great it was to meet them. This might also be a good time to ask for an appointment, or schedule a facility walkthrough. Remember to listen from #2; you want to learn more about their company, and then share more about how you might be able to assist them.

5. Use technology: Networking events are obviously about personal interaction, but don’t forget to use the tools you have. Does the event have a Twitter hashtag? Tweet from the event and spread the love. Check in to the event using Foursquare. Connect with the people you meet on LinkedIn and grow your connections. Did you find a company you want to learn more about? Like their Company Profile on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter. In today’s world, most events will encourage this and include the necessary social information in their materials. Use them to your advantage.

Networking events can be an overwhelming venture, but it doesn’t have to be. Use these best practices to make it a little easier. Do you have some tips on networking at an event? Share them in the comments!

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