While attending Expansion Live in Banff a few weeks ago, I was reminded about how important it is to get out of your house every once in a while and make meaningful connections.
It’s easy to fall into a routine and stay within your comfort zone or continue to socialize only within your established circle.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
If you are looking to expand your network, grow your business, or build a reputation, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t get yourself out there once in a while!
I met over 50 amazing entrepreneurs at the event and was able to connect with these people on such a deep, profound level. What allowed this to happen? Well, it was likely a combination of like-minded people coming together. Wwe were all there with similar goals and mindsets. Plus the venue, and the structure of the event all seemed to line up perfectly.
Reflecting on this pretty amazing experience prompted me to write a blog post about how to make an incredible impact at your next event, either as an attendee or a hostess. That’s right. It’s not just about hosting but also about how you attend an event that can make the difference between a forgettable fling with no calls the next day and a meaningful relationship that continues to grow long after the stage has been dismantled and the chairs put away.
In today’s digital world where there are webinars and podcasts, Skype meetings, and Whatsapp group chats, the idea of getting out there and meeting people face to face can seem like foreign territory. Here’s the thing, though – you can call it old school but there’s nothing quite like attending a live event. Yes, there’s potential for awkwardness when meeting new people, especially when you have to engage in clumsy icebreaker exercises or make the same opening chit chat over and over again.
You form a special bond that just doesn’t happen when you’re interacting through a screen. This isn’t just about the physical connection (which we are also sorely lacking these days!). It’s that you are presented with opportunities that could lead to partnerships, joint ventures, and collaborations that likely wouldn’t have happened online. In fact, the chances of you even meeting and connecting with these specific people online would be slim to none.
Before you sign in and collect your name badge, keep these things in mind to make the most out of your next event:
Find something in common.
Meeting people who share the same goals, values, or visions creates a common ground that will make it easier to open up a conversation. If you are at a professional event, you’ll likely already have a career or industry in common. This can easily steer a conversation towards a topic that is relevant to all of those involved. As a bonus, this also opens up the door to asking for advice or hearing a different perspective about something you’ve been pondering.
Don’t be shy.
I guarantee that at least half the people in attendance are also feeling shy, unsure, or out of place. It’s not that they don’t want to talk to anyone – they’re just trying to figure out how. Being an event strategist has made me a professional behind the scenes lurker and one of my favorite things to do is look out onto the floor and people-watch. The one thing I always notice is that everyone wants to spark up a conversation, some just don’t know how. Take the initiative and go up to someone and introduce yourself. What’s the worst that could happen, really? You exchange names, have a polite conversation for a minute or two, and then move on.
It’s one of the easiest ways to get a chat going. People usually don’t mind talking about themselves when they’re asked a question. Be sincere, convey interest, and engage with the person. They will likely start asking you questions, as well, and this rapport becomes a building block for a solid connection.
I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies.
It’s not about how many connections you make, it’s about the quality of them. It won’t matter if you’ve chatted with 100 people if neither party is interested in taking it any further. You can make meaningful connections with just a handful of like-minded go-getters who are interested in keeping up the conversation. Girl, you’ve just strengthened your network by a hundred.
So, the next time you have the chance to attend a live event that’s right up your alley (or even just sort of up your alley) – GO! It’s all about putting yourself out there, trying something new, and expanding your network. Don’t hide behind LinkedIn (or Facebook or Instagram or whatever your social platform of choice). It’s time to shine girl!