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

Welcome to the new and improved A Well Crafted Party

Welcome to the new and improved A Well Crafted Party

I’ve been blogging at A Well Crafted Party for nearly five years now and it has gone through its fair share of change as my life changed along with it.

Content over the past few years

This little blog started as a way to share my DIY party ideas and has morphed into a community where I share everything from recipes to updates on how life is with my toddler. It went from a very niche blog to a wide array of topics. Sometimes, the wide array of topics ended up hurting the overall feeling of the site and didn’t allow for readers to get to know me and my blog the way I’d prefer. Sometimes it allowed for content I never thought I’d possibly have the opportunity to share and the blog has benefited from that.

I brought in guest bloggers often… sometimes to the delight of readers and sometimes, not-so-much. My husband even started his own series called “A Well Crafted Man” but soon slowed on his postings.

The blog has had its highs and its lows. There have been times where I’ve had so much content and TIME to share that I was posting nearly a dozen posts a week. There have been weeks of silence on the blog.

Design over the past few years

Very first blog banner for A Well Crafted Party

This was my first attempt at a blog banner in 2010 when my blog began. EEK.

Evolution of Blog Design A Well Crafted Party

Professionally designed blogger blog layout circa 2011

Evolution of Blog Design A Well Crafted Party

After a brief stint in purple on my WordPress site I moved over to my current color scheme. This layout lasted about a year.

A Well Crafted Party Blog Magazine Layout 2014

A Well Crafted Party Blog Design 2013-2015

The design started as a very basic blogger setup with a terrible pixelated header, to professionally designed, to WordPress continuous blog format to a WordPress magazine layout. The logo started out as a crude purple scripted logo all the way to the current clean fonts with elements of blues, greens and yellows.

Mission over the past few years

My mission started as sharing unique party ideas for celebrating life on a budget. It gradually morphed into sharing unique ideas and stories about celebrating life and ways to celebrate moments on a budget. I still feel strongly about both of those missions, I just want to make sure I’m living up to it in my posts.

Life over the past few years

All of these changes almost directly correlate with the changes in my life. When I started I was a part of a married couple with a non-creative job craving a creative outlet as a hobby. I increased my content schedule and updated the blog look as people began to take notice of that little hobby. Then all of the sudden I was pregnant and about to have a son. I stopped throwing as many parties and wanted to start sharing more about life. That is when I made the switch to a lifestyle blog rather than a parties and event blog. When I became a work-at-home mom picking up freelancing jobs I shifted A Well Crafted Party into a career blog, making “career blogger” moves such as moving to WordPress and increasing my content schedule. When I was sharing so much content in a variety of topics I made the move to a magazine style layout. Then I got a full-time, out of the home job that took me away from this little space I had created.

What has changed?

Everything. Well, almost everything.

I tried ( I really, really tried) to keep up with a more consistent and fruitful schedule of posts in the many topics that I like to post about. I tried taking the time to comment on other people’s blogs, keep up with all the social media, reply to every comment on this site. At some point I realized that I just can’t do it all, no matter how much I want to! One area of responsibility would be going really well, and I’d be failing at so many other areas. So… that leads me to my new view of A Well Crafted Party.

A Well Crafted Party’s Mission

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog’s mission. I mean, why in the world am I spending my time and energy brining my ideas to this little side of the internet? Some bloggers make bank on  their work and I support them in that endeavor. However, with my focus on my full-time job, this blog is more of a hobby than a career. It needs to be something that I am passionate about if it is going to continue.

In all of my reflection on what I am truly passionate about and WHY I started the blog to begin with I came up with a simple mission statement that I feel I can get behind in everything I do and which supports my personal goals.

A Well Crafted Party is a blog where I celebrate life. My tagline is ‘Life is a Party—Celebrate!’ because I believe that there is something in every day that is worth celebrating and something within every person that deserves to be celebrated. My mission is to explain, inspire and educate others in celebrating the everyday.

A Well Crafted Party’s Content

Honestly, this is the hardest part for me… I want this blog to be a true reflection of myself, even if it is just the little bits of me and my family that I wish to share. My content will support my blog’s mission. I aim to post three times a week— currently aiming for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday if you are someone who prefers to just check in on posting days rather than following along via a blog reader or social media. I will be posting my usual array of parties, recipes and cocktails. I will also continue to occasionally write about blogging, curvy fashion, non-fussy beauty and family. Though, every post will keep my mission in mind.

Evolution of Blog Design with A Well Crafted Party

Refreshed Blog Design circa 2015

A Well Crafted Party’s New Design

I wanted to bring elements of what I have to celebrate every day to the blog in my refreshed blog design. Macey from Moments by Macey took me and the family out to take the images that I’ve shared in the design. I plan on changing up the photos throughout the seasons, but for now it is exactly what I wanted to share with my new mission. I also went with a cleaner and easier to read logo design. Because I am no longer posting several times throughout the week the magazine layout no longer worked for my blog. I’ve reverted to a more traditional blog layout using the Master Theme from Mojo Themes. As I find time I am making my landing pages even more clean and easy to navigate so it is easy to peruse the many posts that the blog contains. The A Well Crafted Pantry page is already up and working and I couldn’t be happier!

The Future of A Well Crafted Party

Goodness, who knows!? I’m sure it is going to continue to change along with me and my life. I love that I get the opportunity to look back and track my changes through a series of posts and photos. Just like life there are moments of embarrassment and pride. I do hope that I continue to live up to my mission in the future of this blog. I also plan to really strive to be a more consistent blogger. Finally, I have a project up my sleeve that speaks to my mission more than anything I’ve ever done before. I’m so excited to bring share it in March and get the ball rolling on a year long effort!

Thank you for reading A Well Crafted Party. It means a lot to me that you not only stop by these pages, but that you take the time to take it all in. I’d love to know…

What do you think of the new design and mission? What would you like to see more of (or less of) in future posts?

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