Arriving about 15 minutes before a networking event starts is an easy way to maximize your benefits. Event hosts and sponsors are sure to be there. In fact, most hosts build in time to welcome early arrivals. Take advantage of this pre prime time.
It’s an opportunity to get a feel for the surroundings without feeling rushed, to shake hands, make a positive impression and set the stage for you to introduce the organizers to guests as the event progresses. It is always a plus to have met the movers and shakers.
A word of caution, though: Don’t launch into a long conversation as the hosts may have last-minute details to handle.
Instead scope the room and strategically position yourself or your materials. Check out:
• Where to sit for a good view of the podium or stage if there will be a program
• Where to position yourself to see arrivals
• How to get the best exposure for your materials on the networking table, if provided
• Whether the food’s out early
In fact, if you plan to eat do so early or wait until the event is nearly over. Carrying a plate with you is preferable to sitting but can be an impediment to shaking hands and can get downright messy, depending on the food. (Chicken wings are particularly bad!) Those of you who speak with your hands are particularly vulnerable to spilling on yourself and others since you can be animated … even when you are listening!
Of course, it is impolite to speak with your mouth full. Circulating with your hands (and mouth) empty is preferable.
And one last thing, imbibe in alcoholic drinks only if you are sure it will not impede your words and actions. Overindulging is unfathomable at a business networking event. While you may not remember what you did, others will!