Going to Trade events can seem like social hour at the local pub, but it can also be very beneficial for your business and career. It doesn’t matter if you are Introverted or Extroverted, I have ideas that will help you win at Networking events.
The first benefit of networking is being around like minded creatives & designers. You might all look different, have different styles, or different Business models, but you will have more in common than you think! A huge benefit to networking at design events is to meet other great designers that can turn into trusted advisors and collaborators. I know some designers that are solopreneurs with no team to talk through business struggles or bounce ideas with, so going to events and meeting other designers can be such a life-line.
The second benefit of networking is meeting other trades that you could work and collaborate with. This could be builders, architects, marketing consultants, product reps, and the list goes on. I have built so many great partnerships over the past 5-10 years really focusing on networking at these events and making it a priority.
Not sure what networking event is right for you? Depending on what is offered in your area, it is more about getting out and meeting people and trying different ones. For design communities -great ones to check out are NKBA, ASID , and IIDA. Contact your local chapters and ask if you could sample a meeting. You could also go to other business related events or charity auctions. While they may not share the same type of business, they could be a referral source or offer a perspective in business that you hadn’t thought of.
So, you made it to the event, now what?
You are shy or introverted, or you are not sure what to talk about.-It is really simple. Ask people about themselves. People love to talk about themselves. Giving the other person a chance to share their story will also help you warm up to them and then find some commonalities.
You are extroverted, and you talk to everyone- Make sure you still keep it simple and you don’t ramble-and you still make a point to ask people about themselves.
Want more ideas? Get my list of questions to ask below 😉
Next, remember this is NOT speed dating!
The key to working the room at an event is quality not quantity. It is not how many people you meet, but quality of business relationships you are able to cultivate. Instead focus on getting to know fewer people and getting real with them.
What to do when you are with a friend or two? It is fun to go with friends and maybe a little less intimidating. Make sure to review with your friend(s) that you look forward to who you all will meet at the event and then be intentional about talking to people you don’t know.
At some point if you attend a lot of events, you will want to check in with all the people you already know.I definitely do this! BUT I encourage you be intentional and polite. Greet your friends and then work the room together. Simply turn to your friend after pleasantries and say, “who here have you not met?”. Then go together.
I have a lot of great questions in the download below, but the #1 question to ask when you want to collaborate with someone is, ‘What can I do to help you in your business?’ This might seem like a small thing, but it is selfless and a huge foundation to good business friendships.
Stuck in a weird chat or a bitch session? –
So here’s the thing…. sometimes people go to trade events to vent. Shocking right?!
We have stressful jobs and sometimes it can feel like you are the only one going through it. If they are asking your advice, give them your perspective and positive solutions because -THIS is what community is all about! But if they are just complaining for drama’s sake, you can tell. AND- You do not have time for that! It can be toxic and leave you tired and depleted. So if you find yourself in that position, first try changing the subject – focusing on something great that is happening in your city or network. If that doesn’t work, then it’s distraction time! Talk about something in the room – it could be the food, or that gorgeous new marble slab. OR introduce both of you to another person that you can both engage with.
After the event -email those you met and say how nice it was to meet them. Recap any conversations that you want to build on and make plans to nurture those business relationships. Be intentional with these people and the investment you make will come back to you!
Grab the FREE Download of 15 Great Networking questions to ask- for Interior Designer!