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10 Ways Networking Strategy Has Changed Since the Pandemic

Attending in person conferences is the BEST way to market your business, if done right. Ask any marketing expert and most will agree with this statement. Choosing the right conferences to attend and with whom you interact is first priority for establishing brand authority. 

Hanna recently attended the Association of Language Companies (ALC) Annual Summit in Las Vegas, where we learned some amazing things and met awesome people!

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer confidence has been building again and we are ready for face to face networking events to share information and collaborate outside of the virtual world. Having a networking strategy that’s adapted to the new business landscape is key to success! Interacting in person is very different from attending online events and learning to reintegrate into in person events is a big change!

Besides proper business conference attire, what are some other ways businesses can use conference attendance wisely?

Plan Out Your Networking Strategies

You will not have time to speak with everyone at the event, nor should you. Before leaving for the event, look online to determine which notable businesses and vendors will be present. 

Plan your time accordingly. Seek out discussion panels or events to attend that align with your business goals and give you talking points in conversations afterwards with influential people in your industry.

Bring Business Cards and Wear Appropriate Attire

As you interact with other business owners, vendors, conference attendees, and potential customers, you will have ample opportunity to discuss what your business does and find potential business or collaborative opportunities. Listen to understand rather than to just find opportunities to engage. 

What to wear to a business conference is often a pressing question. Wear attire that aligns with your business goals and conveys a professional appearance while representing your brand. 

This could be a T-shirt with your business name or blazer and dress pants or suit and tie but each type of event you attend will require a different outfit. Business casual is great for men and women and a rule of thumb if you don’t know what the dress code will be or haven’t established your personal brand yet.

Be Confident

You started a business for a reason and run it the way you do for a reason. When asked about how you conduct your business, be confident in your answers and don’t feel the need to over explain the why behind the way you run the business. 

If other business owners provide unsolicited business advice, take it in stride but it doesn’t mean you must follow it. This isn’t a job search and you aren’t trying to impress potential employers.

Remember Your Business Values and One Liner 

Your brand authority is built on what you say repeatedly about your brand. When someone (anyone) asks what you do, the one liner is the best way to speak of your business and will help you stand out from other businesses in your industry.

A one liner “clarifies your message so customers engage” and is based on the StoryBrand framework developed by Donald Miller. In this process, you work through an exercise that helps you connect with customers and grow your business. 

Take Photos with Notable Figures and Potential Collaborators

Again, plan this accordingly during your strategy and take well lit photos with others that offer opportunity for the brand and business. Avoid awkward hand gestures or grimacing smiles and stand straight in photos whenever possible because this conveys confidence.

Get a business card from them after the photo so you can connect with them online later to follow up after the conference to discuss potential collaborations or establish a great support system of like-minded business owners!

Remember Talking Points to Start Conversations 

People remember those that are truly interested in them and what they are working on. You want to be remembered because this is how you make an impression and work towards establishing authority. As you listen to a keynote speaker, remember talking points to bring up in conversation with them later OR to reach out to them via social media to connect and grow your professional network online.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Ask to Connect Online

Believe it or not, having a strong professional network that is smaller is often better than having a large network that doesn’t have a clue who you are after the initial meeting, especially as you grow your business to the next phase. 

Spend time in conversation and make a genuine connection then ask to connect with them online. Periodically, reach out to your network to check in and try to find opportunities to connect or help them with their business.

Use the 80/20 Rule

Spend 80% of your time on the networking that will bring the most value to your business. Reach out to those that put effort into reaching out to you and that will help you build your business. 

Focusing on how you spend your time and how you network with others will save you precious time.

Take Note of New Ideas and Happenings in the Industry

Conferences and trade shows are a perfect way to find out what industry thought leaders are working on or what other businesses are doing to move their own businesses forward. Take note of ideas or happenings that you can bring back with you to improve your own business. 

Don’t implement changes immediately upon return, wait for the adrenaline and excitement to wear off first and then make an educated decision after doing some research.

Be Yourself

Each one of us is important and unique. The aspects of us that make us ourselves are what make us memorable and help build brand authority. Be kind and confident, contribute meaningfully to conversations, and focus on serving others rather than building your business and the bottom line will benefit from this leadership style.  

In Conclusion

Regardless of whether you wear a dress shirt with pencil skirt or wide leg pants, getting out into the business community is a huge opportunity to connect with your target audience or other business contacts in your industry. Take stock of how you can help others before asking for help from them because this is how long term relationships are made. 

Disclaimer: All content published by Hanna Interpreting Services, LLC is owned by Hanna Interpreting Services, LLC and is for educational purposes only. Published information is opinion, not fact, and should not be used in lieu of legal or professional services advice. Please consult a professional for help in regards to your individual situation or circumstances.