NETWORKING TIPS FOR THE 2019 NASC SYMPOSIUM (OR ANY NETWORKING EVENT!)
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People tend to fall on three sides of the networking spectrum:
- The people that love socializing and meet all kinds of people
- The people that hate networking and skip these sessions or don’t participate
- The people that are good at networking and leave with a valuable lead and/or resource
Depending on the day, each of us usually falls into one of these categories when we must attend networking events. Many factors contribute to how we react to networking including the hours worked that day, what’s happening outside of work, and energy levels in general. Please take a moment to learn some networking lessons that may provide positive results while networking at the 2019 NASC Symposium.
Look at this stack of business cards! These are on my desk right now. Can you imagine if your card is located near the bottom of that stack? I’m sure my card is at the bottom of stacks on hundreds of desks around the country. This is a constant reminder that I’m not all that good at networking….it’s also a reminder that I’m contributing to waste.
Please snap a photo of the business cards on your desk and share in the comments section.
What does networking mean to you? Is networking pumping yourself up in the car trying to fuel your inner extrovert? Is networking a dreaded event to be avoided? Is networking where you shine and make tons of connections? At its core, networking is: creating relationships. That’s it! That’s what I’m looking for and that’s what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for that hand shake that results in the big deal, next career opportunity, or that angel investor chances are you’ll be disappointed. Here are a few tips to make the most of the networking opportunities the Symposium will provide you:
Define what relationships you want to build
- Who do you want to meet and why? You can find a list of exhibitors and event owners here and a list of destinations attending here.
- Who can you help with your experience, knowledge, and resources?
- Example: I want to meet a person with USA Sport because I have a local contact that is trying to build a club in my destination.
- I’m helping the NGB by building the sport
- I’m helping my local stakeholder by gathering information on new recruiting methods, coach education, referee development, etc.
- I’m helping my destination by beginning a non-transactional relationship with stakeholders
- Ask questions about the person your speaking with (and let them answer, uninterrupted)
- You want to make friends, not contacts!
- Open yourself up to new ideas and perspectives. Be curious and attentive
- People want to be listened to so don’t give the person the feeling that you’re waiting for them to finish so you can speak again
Engage with people
- Answer questions posed to you honestly
- Tell your story! You’re one in 7.53 billion! You’re interesting and unique. You have a great story to share with people….and they want to hear it!
- Build your network so you can be a connector that helps people
Give, Give, Give, then Give some more
- Ask what challenges the person is experiencing
- Help that person reach a goal, make a connection or overcome an obstacle
- You build trust and are demonstrating your value by giving. The relationship will be very different if the first words you say are asking for something
- Keep your word! If you say you’re going to follow up, follow up. If you say you’re going to connect them with someone in your network, connect them.
Do it! Network!
- Introduce yourself! Walk up and say “High, I’m……” and don’t just begin a conversation, begin a relationship
Enjoy meeting the best professionals in the business! You’re not in a contest to collect the most business cards! You’re going to build your network based on trust and friendship. I look forward to meeting you in Knoxville! Please say hello and mention this post – there’s a gift in it for the first five people to introduce themselves to me!
Be well, friends!
Matthew Robinette CSEE, CMP
Director of Convention & Sports Services
Richmond Region Tourism
Mentoring & Engagement Committee