Is getting the most out of Arena events, and other industry events for that matter, on your New Year’s resolutions list? We’ve put together a few helpful tips that will help you prepare for an event, enjoy the experience and make the all-important connections that could prove lucrative for your business in the year ahead. Happy and fruitful networking!
Plan ahead: We publish the guest list prior to each event, so check who’s attending before you arrive, highlight a handful of guests you’d like to meet and let us know so we can help make introductions. And, think about how you’re going to introduce yourself. First impressions count!
Do your homework: Find out as much as possible about the person(s) you’d like to meet and their business and use this early in the conversation. This can be anything from an award they’ve won to where they like to go on holiday. It shows you’re genuinely interested.
Maintain eye contact: Focus on the person you’re talking to and look interested. There’s nothing worse than someone looking over your shoulder to see where the next person they would like to speak to is. But, above all, be natural.
Ensure it’s not about you: Make sure you listen to what the person has to say; don’t talk about yourself or your business unless they ask.
Work the room: Use the time between courses to introduce yourself to the people you want to meet. This is not the time to have a long and meaningful conversation but a simple ‘I wanted to come along and say hello’ type of conversation will get you on their radar.
Hard sell: This is the number one no-no. Senior operators do not attend events to be sold to. It’s about building long-term relationships for future reward, not securing an immediate sale. Think tortoise and hare!
Thrust your business card on someone: Wait until you move on, then leave your business card, otherwise they’ll think you are about to go into a sales pitch.
Talk about yourself or your business: No matter how tempting it is to tell the CEO of a major contract caterer or pub group how great your new vegan 200ml ready meals are, believe me, they’re really not interested! Instead, find common ground they are interested in.
Interrupt a ‘closed circle’: Many people who attend Arena know each other and enjoy catching up with colleagues they haven’t seen for a while, or they may use the occasion to entertain clients. If three or four people look as though they’re deep in conversation and their ‘circle’ is closed, do not try to break into it. Wait until the person is on their own or ask an Arena committee member to introduce you.
Stick to your colleagues like glue: If you are attending with your colleagues, try not to stay with them throughout the whole event. Remember, you’re there to meet new people.