Tips of the Trade: ‘Tis the Season to Work the Room Quickly
By Ilise Benun, www.marketing-mentor.com
Like it or not, with Halloween behind us, the Thanks-chris-new-kwanz-ukkuh season has officially begun. For many of us, that means attending a lot more events, networking and otherwise, than we do during the rest of the year.
Bruce Allen over at Marketing Catalyst has some interesting ideas about how to maximize your time at an event when you absolutely, positively can’t stay for the duration. (He’s an attorney, and a gracious one at that, so his disclaimer states that he does not advocate early departure; he just gets that sometimes it’s necessary.)
What’s interesting is that a few of the tips are great party-hacks for introverts who might otherwise stay all night and not work the whole room. I also like his idea of offering to pick up drinks for a small group on your way to the bar. If it’s a large enough order, someone will probably offer to join you to ferry stuff back. Besides, who isn’t going to be your new best friend for bringing them a fresh cocktail?
“Working an Event in 60 Minutes or Less”
By Bruce Allen
I attend more than 150 business events every year. That’s a lot of crackers, cucumbers, cheese, cheap wine and name-badge spotting. Phew! It takes its toll and I’m not always capable of handling a full, two-four hour production from start to finish. During heavy event seasons, I’ve also had to cover two or more events in one evening. And, sometimes work or life commitments dictate how quickly I need to leave. Whatever the reason, I’ve learned a few things about maximizing an event without attending for the duration.
1. Arrive early. When possible, I might be the first person there. This allows me time to talk with organizers, association principles, etc. These are all good connections to have and explore. They can key me in on expected attendees, future activities and opportunities.
2. Read the names on the badges at the registration table. I like knowing whom I might meet: prospects, clients, competitors, referral resources, etc.
3. Once people start flowing in, I stay near the entrance to the main networking area. People are more capable of being easily engaged in conversation earlier than later. Plus, I will have a better chance of meeting everyone I want to meet. More importantly, I am seen by a maximum of attendees. Being seen is almost as important as being known.
4. If I must visit the bar or food tables, I greet someone and invite them to join me. From the front door, almost everyone is headed to one of those two places as their next stop after registration.
5. I offer to bring drinks to a gaggle of people. They will definitely include me in their conversation when I return, and, people feel good about people that pamper them.
6. After about 30 minutes, when the crowd has really grown and a good buzz is happening, I walk from the entrance to the furthest point away in the networking space. Along the way, I greet people I know but haven’t spoken with yet, I wave and nod at people I’ve already talked to, and smile at as many people as look me in the eye.
6. Once at the back of the room, I survey the room for a cluster of VIPs hoping I know someone in the gathering. If so... that’s where I’m headed. If not, I look for a fellow service provider to discuss who is attending. What we can do together is make mutual introductions and share information/insight about people in the room.
7. When the event is 45 minutes old, I have pretty much “worked” the room and can start toward the exit much like I entered: nodding, shaking hands, and smiling.
What I have accomplished is immense! I was seen by many; I appeared to be known by many; I made all-important connections (and set up opportunities for private meetings), and have been a contributor to the all important “buzz” of an event.
For the record let me say that I think it is bad form to leave early. For all of the effort that individuals put into an event, it is the decent thing to stay to the bitter end. I hope for the same from attendees at events that I orchestrate. But at every event, it is not possible for me as it is not possible for everyone that shows up. So if you find that your time is limited, these where just a few ideas for making the journey productive.
Excerpted from “Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor”, a free e-mail newsletter published by Hoboken, New Jersey-based consultant, Ilise Benun. Benun is also the author of “Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive” and founder of Marketing Mentor, a one-on-one coaching program for small business owners. For more information, visit www.marketing-mentortips.com.