Networking Tips #6 - Be Prepared

To get the most out of your networking, spend a little time preparing for your meetings.

Get yourself a name badge.  Sometimes networking events will provide you with name badges which gives you one less thing to remember.  A simple one you can slot your business card into is useful, as long as the name on your card is easily readable.  People are impressed with a smart name badge rather than a hand-scrawled sticky label or none at all.

Take plenty of business cards.  Yes, I know that's obvious but people still turn up at events with no business cards or run out because they don't have enough.

Have a notebook and pen with you.  You'll probably want to take notes of who you meet, useful information, opportunities for sharing contacts.  Write it in your notebook on the back of their business card.

Think about what you're going to say.  Not only to the standard question "... and what do you do?" but also to generate conversation with the people you meet.  Practice saying what you do in a clear, concise way. One or two sentences is fine.

Get there on time.  There's nothing worse than arriving late when people are already in full flow.  It's good to arrive early and then you can easily introduce yourself to both the meeting organisers and to the first few people who are likely to be there early.  You'll have a head start on the others.

Carry a business card with you at all times.  You never know where or when you'll have an opportunity to offer help or your services.  It doesn't always happen in organised events.

Where's the most unusual place you've been networking?
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