Wednesday, 6 December 2017

How to shine at a networking event

Whether you’re a seasoned tax professional or junior practitioner, few activities have as much potential for business development and career advancement as networking with peers, influencers and prospective clients.

A networking function can help you forge real-world connections with people you might otherwise only know via email or social media. It enables you to represent your organisation to potentially valuable, influential contacts. However, making and nurturing contacts at such occasions can be challenging if you don’t take the time to prepare.

Here are some ideas on how to best represent your firm at a networking event.

Reach out on social media

If you’re going to represent your employer at an event, the use of social media beforehand can be powerful.

For example, you can tweet about the fact that you plan to attend, using the event’s hashtag. You might also register your interest in meeting new people on the relevant Facebook or LinkedIn page.

This can encourage fellow attendees to seek you out. It also shows that your organisation prioritises industry engagement and participation.

Put your best foot forward

Although networking functions sometimes take place at informal venues, that doesn’t mean you should cast aside your professionalism. It’s important to dress for the occasion, ensure you have plenty of business cards and take the time to introduce yourself and thank your host.

Industry events can feel more laid-back than a meeting in the office, but it’s also worth monitoring your alcohol consumption and reminding yourself that you’re still ‘on the job’.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to relax when talking about yourself and your employer’s service offering. Letting your personality shine through is often the best way to build relationships.

Have a clear strategy

There’s no point attending a networking event if you’re clueless about what you plan to achieve. Are you hoping to meet potential clients, promote a specific service that’s new to your firm, or simply expand your professional network? If you’re unsure about what your employer expects you to do, it might be worth scheduling a meeting with your manager beforehand to talk it through.

Networking events can provide powerful opportunities to grow a business, so it’s worth your while to use them to your advantage.

Once the event is over, ask yourself how well you represented your organisation and whether you met your goals. And don’t forget to nurture the relationships you built by making continuing to connect with your new contacts on a regular basis.

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