Tips for Attending a Networking Event and WOWing the Room

Tips for Attending a Networking Event and WOWing the Room

Yesterday I shared tips on how to throw a great networking event, but what most people want to know is how to really wow at networking events. How do you make yourself stand out amongst the other people in attendance at a networking event? How can you move the shy inner person aside and share the inner rockstar with the room? Or for people like me, how do you decrease the anxiety enough to not come off as a hyperventilating, sweaty palmed super-fan when meeting someone for the first time?

After hosting many networking events with my networking group Portland Bloggers, and attending even more, I’ve come up with a few tips that help me get through a networking event fairly unscathed and with a lot of great connections.

(Big thanks to Portland-local event, food and family photographer Aubrie LeGault for taking these amazing photos!)

Networking works

Before I get to the tips though, let me say that networking REALLY works. You’ve heard the saying before, “It’s all about who you know!” While I don’t believe that is what it is all about, I do believe that there is something to it. You don’t have to know the most powerful player in town to find a connection that will lead you to your next career, opportunity or best friend. I’ve seen several people (including myself) create careers and land jobs or amazing opportunities from taking the time to network with others. It isn’t just about meeting another person either, it is about showing what you can do once you have the opportunity, but making the opportunity to show what you’ve got arrive is all in the networking.

Wow the room with these tips for networking event - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Attending a Networking Event that Make the Room Say WOW

Okay, so you believe me that networking works. You’ve seen it happen or see where it might work for you. You are ready to take the next step and meet someone that you can really show what you’ve got, but how do you make that opportunity arrive? How do you make the most out of a networking event? Simply follow these easy tips and see all the connections you make!

Networking Tip 1: Pick your networking events with purpose.

There is no point going to a networking event that doesn’t meet your needs in some way or another. Go to an event with the people you want to connect with or with people that can help you meet the people you want to connect with at some point. Thinking about your purpose and the type of people you want to connect with prior to choosing your networking events will help you narrow down your options and utilize your time and efforts in the best way possible.

What does that mean? It means that if you are a blogger looking to connect with brands you want to look for networking events that will put you directly with brands or with other bloggers in a similar niche with brand development in a place that you want your blog to be at. If you are wanting to collaborate on projects or learn from other bloggers then go to an event that puts you with bloggers who may want to do the same thing. Networking with people in an industry that you want to work is great for job connections!

The bloggers that attended the recent Portland Bloggers’ event got the opportunity to meet other bloggers from a variety of niches and sizes. They were able to ask specific questions about monetizing, photography, design, marketing, content creation and more. It was a great event for bloggers looking to connect with collaboration partners as well as learn more about their craft. Personally, I found out about two new ad networks that I later looked into and signed up for!

How do you find your purpose? Decide what you want to accomplish with the networking event by examining your goals and the types of people you want to meet to help you get closer to your goals. For instance: I have a goal to finish my ebook and launch it in September. My last networking events I specifically went with a purpose in mind to connect and get to know bloggers who I feel would be great people to send my ebook to prior to launch to get feedback and possibly help promote. My purpose was to connect and get to know local influencers in a way that would let me know if they’d be the right person to help me reach my goal. In addition, my purpose was to help other bloggers reach their goals. Networking is not a one way street after all!

Bring business cards that stand out to wow the crowd at your next networking event - A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 2: Bring business cards that stand out.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many networking events that I’ve attended where people do not have business cards. I can’t even count the times that I’ve made this mistake myself! They are printing, I forgot them, I didn’t have enough on me… I’ve got all the excuses covered. If you really want to wow a room you need to have business cards that stand out. At the end of an event the people that talked to you probably talked to at least five other people with which they exchanged cards. Your card needs to stand out and make your memorable.

At our last event one of the attendees, Yvonne from Dress this Nest & King Cream, brought little individual ice creams to hand out to guests as they left. Do you think anyone forgot her business cards that day? Nope!

And, no, I don’t suggest you figure out a way to bring ice cream to everyone at an event. But, I am suggesting you take time to have business cards that speaks about you in a way that people will remember that it was YOU that gave it to them. My business cards use the same color scheme and photos that are on my blog.

Wow the room with these tips for networking event - A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 3: Think of yourself as a brand.

This tip goes for anyone who attends a networking event—not just bloggers. Thinking of yourself and what you have to offer as a brand and presenting yourself in a professional, unique way (as brands have to do) will set you apart from the crowd.

Three things you should know about your “brand” to help you make the most of networking:

  • Know what you have to offer each person that you meet. What is your brand’s value?
  • Know who you help with your offerings—your readers, customers, potential employers.
  • How do you provide this value in a unique way?

READ: Five tips for presenting your brand in a party situation & free printable!

Prepare to talk about yourself at a networking event - Networking Tips from A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 4: Prepare to talk about yourself.

At a networking event you will have to talk about yourself at one point or another. You will need to talk about yourself in a way that is authentic, concise and interesting. This trait comes to some people naturally. If so, kudos for you!

However, if you are like me and instead end up a rambling machine that doesn’t ever come to the point and ends up talking about themselves WAY too much or giving a little too much information then you’ll want to take care to not skip this step and PREPARE.

Thinking of yourself like a brand helps with this step a lot. Take the time to answer the above three questions, write them down, and practice talking about them with specific examples.

Networking isn't about you, but it will help you reach your goals. Networking Tips via A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 5: Know that it isn’t about you. No really, it isn’t.

So, yes, you will need to talk about yourself at a networking event. And, yes, you’ll basically be selling your “brand” to people you meet with the hopes of meeting YOUR purpose. However, it still isn’t about you.

If you go to a networking event and only talk about yourself (a sin I’ve done on many occasions because I get so nervous that all I can do is babble about what I know) then you’ll leave with no real connections and not one ounce closer to your goals.

However, if you go with the purpose of getting to know OTHERS and how the value that you offer can be beneficial to those people then you will come out of the networking event a total networking rockstar. You will find connections with people that can help you meet your purpose all the while helping them reach their goals.

Networking Tip 6: Take notes as soon as the event is over.

This may seem incredibly nerdy, but I promise that if you do this then you will not regret it. I learned this at a recent marketing symposium from a Washington based marketing team called Delphis Creative. The owner of the marketing business suggested that as soon as you get out of every meeting with someone you connect with take the time to take notes on what you talked about, notes about the person and your thoughts about the connection. Take a little time as soon as an event is over (or heck, even on a bathroom break!) to write a few notes about who you met and what you’ve learned.

One cool way to keep track of all of these is to create Evernote notebooks for each event you go to, take a snap shot of the business cards you receive, and write your notes about the person saved with that card. Then, as you develop your relationship you can add to that note. You can also create some cross referencing with tags as you think of ways that you can provide value to that person, or ways they might be able to help you reach your goals.

Don't forget to connect with people AFTER your networking event is over! Networking tips from A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 7: Connect after the event.

Networking events do not end when the door closes and the last glass of wine has been dumped and racked for cleaning. Now days the events can go on and on with the addition of social networking. Take your notebook and purposefully connect with those people with whom you met and started a connection. Connect over social media or email. Just connect.

Did I leave any tips out? What have you learned from your own networking successes and failures? Comment below!


Thank you to the sponsors of the Portland Bloggers Speed Networking Event:

A big, big thank you goes out to all the awesome sponsors that helped make the recent Portland Bloggers’ networking event possible. I appreciate the support of local Portland bloggers and hope that you do too! Please check out the websites of these awesome supporters of Portland blogs and connect with them online:

Host: Passionfruit | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Photographer: Aubrie LeGault Photography | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Bagels: Bowery Bagels | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Coffee: Black Rock Coffee Bar | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Tips for Throwing a Speed Networking Event that Isn’t Boring

Tips for Throwing a Speed Networking Event that Isn’t Boring

Have you ever been to one of those deadpan networking events that people are supposed to connect over tasteless food and (at least hopefully) a glass of wine? While networking seems to be the thing to do nowadays for job development or sales connections, those events bore me to tears and are super awkward for people (like me) who get anxious at the thought of shaking hands and talking about themselves.

Thankfully, people who plan these events are working hard to make them not-so mind-numbing. The efforts to improve networking events probably stems from the gigantic amount of competition for being the one networking event to attend, rather than the one to skip in the many event opportunities that are popping up. If you are one of those people looking to take your networking event to the next level then keep on reading for my tips for throwing a speed networking event that kicks those other events to the curb.

(More interested in tips on how to wow everyone in the room when you attend a speed networking event? Check back tomorrow for my post on that!)

7 Tips for Throwing a Successful Speed Networking Event - A Well Crafted Party

7 Tips for Throwing a Speed Networking Event that Isn’t Boring

A great networking event needs to have a good group of attendees that have a purpose for getting together, a venue that is conducive to discussions, decent refreshments and maybe some additional entertainment or incentive for guests to enjoy. I’ve thrown several networking events in my role with local networking group Portland Bloggers. Some of the events have been out of this world awesome… others, well, lets just call them learning experiences. Today’s post was inspired by our last Portland Bloggers’ meet-up hosted by Passionfruit, because it was on of those events that I just can’t help but smile for weeks after the event is over.

7 Tips for Throwing a Successful Speed Networking Event - A Well Crafted Party

Speed Networking Tip 1: Give your event purpose

General networking events really do no one in attendance very much good. Make sure your event has a unique reason for your guests to attend. This part is usually fairly easy for most business networking events. Our purpose was to bring Portland-area bloggers together to talk about the ins and outs of blogging. Other networking events could be for certain industries or event working mothers or fathers groups.

To help give our event more of a purpose we provided a structure to this networking event that fit a speed networking theme. Instead of a one-on-one speed networking event (which we did and loved last year) we tried a group-style speed networking event instead. People would be with a group of people for 15 minutes going around the table answering questions. Guests could ask their own questions or use one of the many provided questions at the table.

This type of event helped give the whole event a purpose that surrounded around blogging, while still leaving it open for guests to really shine in talking about their individual interests. The part I liked the most is it was really helpful for people (like me) who get nervous in meet and greet situations. It is much easier to answer a question get to know others when there are a set of rules and questions to guide the conversation!

7 Tips for Throwing a Successful Speed Networking Event - A Well Crafted Party

Speed Networking Tip 2: Make your in-person networking event work as a social networking event

Networking today isn’t just about networking in person. A large part of networking goes on before and after the event with the use of an invitation page where guests can interact before the event, great signage at the event that includes hashtags and ways to connect and finally a hashtag that guests can use to connect with other attendees after the event. Doing this not only helps your guests connect and find more substantial connections from your event, but it increases the buzz around your event. The better buzz surrounding your event the more opportunity to connect with potential attendees to help make your NEXT event a success.

We use Eventbrite to sell tickets to our events which allows people to connect using Facebook. We tend to also set up a Facebook event page so guests can connect and talk prior to our events. Finally, all of our events include a #PortlandBloggers hashtag so guests can connect after any of our events.

7 Tips for Throwing a Successful Speed Networking Event - A Well Crafted Party

Speed Networking Tip 3: Pick an awesome venue that is conducive to conversations

I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to at restaurants or bars where the music was too loud to hear what anyone was saying and the space was too crowded to move about freely. I’d spend the entire time yelling across a bar top to one or two people instead of getting around and connecting with multiple people.

We used the office space of Passionfruit which was the perfect venue for an event such as this. We were able to create unique conversation areas within the venue to make it easier for people to gravitate towards conversation areas. Because we were doing the group speed networking we wanted each person to have a seat and possibly a place to put down their drinks and food plates. Tables, chairs, and comfy living room furniture met our needs without looking too “office” like.

Networking Event Tip: Make sure your event has GREAT refreshments - A Well Crafted Party

Speed Networking Tip 4: Make sure there are great refreshments

Don’t bore guests or waste your money on trays of food and bottles of cheap wine that are boring and won’t be consumed. Don’t worry about spending a bundle on a ton of food either… people go to networking events to NETWORK and not to enjoy a meal (unless it is a networking dinner, but then you are in a different event all together). Make sure there are a few quality options for guests to enjoy and make sure that everything is easy to eat without the need to sit down and pull out a knife and fork. Adult libations are nice and do help to keep the conversations flowing, but they aren’t absolutely necessary or appropriate for ALL networking events.

Local bagel shop Bowery Bagels supplied the best little bagel bites (already pre-schmeared!) for our brunch networking event. They were easy to eat and didn’t require guests to get out of networking mode to put together a snack. We added some fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and a few tasty bagel topping options to round out the food tables. While I’m a big fan of having adult libations at networking events, we decided due to the time and theme of our event to stick with coffee and juices. Amazing local coffee shop Black Rock Coffee supplied a great tasting brew for guests to enjoy along with both dairy and non-dairy creamer options.

7 Tips for Throwing a Successful Speed Networking Event - A Well Crafted Party

A photo booth is excellent for entertaining guests and getting them engaged with something besides networking at your event.

 

Speed Networking Tip #5: Include Entertainment or Extra Incentives

The goal for a networking event, especially a speed networking event, is to well… network. But, occasionally in all of the conversations guests may need a break from the constant conversations or a reason to stay to the end after they’ve met everyone they feel that they want to meet. Adding in a little extra entertainment or incentive is always a good idea. Music is great to play throughout the event, but make sure it isn’t too loud or distracting as it will take away from the purpose of your event. Other great entertainment options include a photo booth, ping pong table, or group activity that can get your guests interacting together rather than just chatting over a dish of food. Giveaways or goodie bags are great incentives to keep guests til the end of the action and thank them for their time. You want them to come back to your next event!

Have Clear signage at your event

Speed Networking Tip #6: Have clear signage at the event

Make sure all areas of your event are labeled even down to your guests. Have name tags for guests to wear throughout the event. Have the wifi password and hashtag posted up EVERYWHERE. Make sure you have clear signage for bathrooms or any other necessary instructions for guests.

Speed Networking Tip #7: Hire a photographer

If this is your one and only networking event then you may not care if you have images from the event. However, if you are planning on throwing regular networking events then having images of your events to use in promotion of future events or even just as an engagement opportunity with previous guests after an event is over, then you want to have great images. Likely, you’ll be too busy networking and making sure the event is running smoothly to get images yourself. Hire a photographer to make sure you have images of your event!

Portland-local photographer Aubrie LeGault shot our last two speed networking events and each time she made a whole bunch of people talking look like rock stars.

Have you been to any networking events or thrown a networking event or two yourself? What tips would you have for people wanting to make a kick-A networking event happen in their area? Comment below!


 Thank you to the sponsors of the Portland Bloggers Speed Networking Event:

A big, big thank you goes out to all the awesome sponsors that helped make the recent Portland Bloggers’ networking event possible. I appreciate the support of local Portland bloggers and hope that you do too! Please check out the websites of these awesome supporters of Portland blogs and connect with them online:

Host: Passionfruit | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Photographer: Aubrie LeGault Photography | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Bagels: Bowery Bagels | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Coffee: Black Rock Coffee Bar | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Throw a Baby Shower with Dream Dinners

Throw a Baby Shower with Dream Dinners

A few months ago, near the beginning of my pregnancy, I had the pleasure of visiting our local Dream Dinners for a blogger dining experience. I had a great time at the event, getting to make the meals was super easy and it was a ton of fun seeing blogging friends and catching up while making the meals. The whole time I couldn’t help but think how the event would have been perfect for a baby shower or baby sprinkle.

The Dream Dinners Experience

When you sign up for the Dream Dinners experience you get the opportunity to pick a date to visit the store, a variety of dishes (the menu changes each month) and number of servings. On the date of your visit you get to join others in prepping your meals. At the end of the two hours you’ll go home with your meals ready to go into the freezer for whenever you are ready for a quick and delicious meal with all the instructions ready to go. You can choose to do this experience on any of the open sessions, invite friends along or schedule a private session for just you and your friends.

Throw a Baby Shower with Dream Dinners — A Well Crafted Party

Throw a Baby Shower with Dream Dinners — A Well Crafted Party

Okay, okay… so, maybe the idea of prepping dinners doesn’t sound super thrilling to you. I get it. When I have to cook dinner I don’t especially love the process. But, what I do love, is going to a place where everything has been prepped for me and I don’t have to do any of the dishes! Check out the organization skills… gotta love the good use of a label maker.

The cost of the meal includes all of the food items that you can follow to the recipe or decide to customize by leaving out ingredients that picky eaters may not enjoy. It also includes the packaging and cooking instructions. There are additional sides and meals already prepped and ready for purchase in the store as well. I bought a few sides and breakfast meals to throw in our freezer at home in addition to the meals I made at the event.

So, how does it all taste?

It was great! The whole family really loved the meals that we tried and the instructions were super easy to follow. My husband actually made all three meals the days that we ate them and didn’t have any problems following the instructions. He isn’t a novice in the kitchen, but there is no way he’d have been able to whip up the Chateau Chicken with Almond Butter Sauce on his own. In addition to the Chateau Chicken I tried Arroz Con Pollo and Limoncello Shrimp with Coconut Rice.

Note: Dream Dinners does have some availability in customizing a recipe or two by leaving out an ingredient you may or may not like. But, it isn’t super customizable when it comes to items that are gluten, allergy or meat free. Check out the site’s Health and Nutrition FAQs for more info on this. The menus are available on-line as well, so you do get quite a few options in what meals you and your family would like. In addition, the packaging includes lots of plastic bags and aluminum. While much better than a frozen meal at the grocery store, it isn’t the most eco-friendly.

 

Throw a Baby Shower with Dream Dinners — A Well Crafted Party

How to throw a Dream Dinners Baby Shower

When I was in my first pregnancy I worked about 25 hours a week and I had maybe a 15 minute commute. I also didn’t have a toddler. I prepped for the baby coming by making a LOT of frozen meals. As a matter of fact, I was prepping large portions of spaghetti and meatballs for freezing the whole beginning stages of labor. The meals were so fantastic the first month of our kiddo’s life.

This pregnancy has been….well, different. I have a full time gig, commute 1 hour each way and a toddler. Not complaining, I love my life. But, the idea of spending my little free time prepping meals for after the baby arrives is not super appealing. A showering of pre-made meals sounds like the perfect baby shower or baby sprinkle for someone who may have most of the baby gear all ready to go.

Read on to find out how to throw a Dream Dinners baby shower!

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