Maximize engagement and conversions: 5 Unique networking event ideas6 min read

Maximize engagement and conversions: 5 Unique networking event ideas

Making a connection online is the simplest job ever. There are no nerves fumbling your speech or sweaty palms ruining a perfectly good handshake. Just a personalized, earnest note sent to the right person at the right time, and you’ve made a new connection.

But in-person networking at an event? Now, that’s a different ballgame altogether. Oh, the awkward small talk, the uncomfortable group exchanges, and the seemingly endless icebreakers!

So, if you’re dreading the experience, we’ve got you covered! Here are five networking tips and tactics for successful event engagement and conversion.

Networking Tip #1 – Tell Your Online Network You’ll Be Attending the Event
Networking Tip #2 – Tune into the Body Language
Networking Tip #3 – When Conversing, Avoid the Small Talk and Jump to Specifics
Networking Tip #4 – Ditch the Physical Cards for Digital Business Cards
Networking Tip #5 – Don’t Just Follow Up, Deepen the Connection

5 Unique Networking Event Ideas and Tips

Networking Tip #1 – Tell Your Online Network You’ll Be Attending the Event

In-person networking can feel intimidating, especially if you’re the new kid on the block. So, why not make a small post on LinkedIn or X (formerly Twitter) and let people know you’ll be attending the event?

Here’s exhibit A.

You can check who in your online network will be in attendance and reach out to them in advance. Tell them how you’re looking forward to meeting them at the event — perhaps share a common area of interest you’d love to discuss with them? Or ask them to introduce you to someone in their network? This is a simple but effective way of laying the groundwork to get past the awkwardness and boost event engagement.

Networking Tip #2 – Tune into the Body Language

If you want to get better at event engagement, get better at taking cues (non-verbal conversation cues!) from the body language. It can help you differentiate between open conversations (where you’re welcome to join) and closed conversations (where you’ll probably be seen as an “intruder”). For example, a closed group of two people.

Also, smile a good measure, make eye contact, and do an “eyebrow raise” whenever you hear something interesting. This can help you keep your partner hooked and the conversation going. Here are some more networking tips to try at your next event!

Image source: HubSpot

Networking Tip #3 – When Conversing, Avoid the Small Talk and Jump to Specifics

“How are you liking the event?”

“Oh, so good, so far.”

{awkward silence ensues…}

Do you approach people with a similar question? This surface-level exchange can hinder you from engaging your fellow networkers and forming deeper connections.

Don’t be afraid to go beyond pleasantries and ask more about their interests and projects, like “What did you think of so and so’s keynote?” or “That sounds exciting. Tell me a little more about..”

Better yet, try to find a way of lending a helping hand. If nothing comes up at the moment, you can promise a deliverable or suggest making introductions they’ll find helpful. Say, a list of LinkedIn profiles? This will give you the perfect opportunity to follow up once you’re back to the grind.

Pro Tip: If you’re struggling to come up with conversation starters, try diving into podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show or The Rich Roll Podcast. They’re brilliant examples of how to get people to talk at a deeper level.

Networking Tip #4 – Ditch the Physical Cards for Digital Business Cards

If you’re still handing out paper-based business cards (no matter the quality of paper), you’re not going to hear back. It’s just too much hassle to copy the information and get in touch.

The better alternative? A digital business card, which, in most cases, comes equipped with a QR Code embedded with your business and personal information in a .vcf (virtual contact file) online format. 

It will look something like this.

Image source: Beaconstac

You can also get the card in print (if you still like the traditional way of networking) or use it digitally as an Apple or Google Wallet business card. And if someone is interested, you can simply show the digital business card on your phone and have them scan the QR Code. With a single scan, they can know and instantly save your email address, phone number, social media handles, and website links. You can also edit the information as and when needed.

And the best part? If your digital business card solution comes with two-way contact sharing (like the one Beaconstac offers), you can capture and store the contact information of the person once they grant permission. You can then build a digital address book of all leads gathered.

This interactive card is 100% more memorable than any high-quality paper business card you’ll ever hand out. Just make sure to present the card only when asked, or your intentions might be misunderstood!

Networking Tip #5 – Don’t Just Follow Up, Deepen the Connection

Getting someone’s contact information is merely the start of a relationship. To truly connect and deepen your relationship for mutual impact, you’ll need to forego the traditional follow-up practices. Sending a timely email or making good on your promises is fine, but it’s still a transaction with expectations for a favor in return.

Do you want to stand out and build genuine relationships? You’ve got to spend time nurturing and warming up to your new friends. Here’s how you can nurture your relationships after the event:

  • Connect on social media and let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them at the event.
  • Try the “Made me think of you” approach. Share a news story, an article, or a post they’ll find interesting.
  • Do they run a community? Get involved and contribute actively. Do they run a blog/newsletter? Subscribe and tell them how you liked it. 

These little interactions will go a long way in deepening your relationship in the long haul!

Final Thoughts

Business networking doesn’t have to be a dull job. If you’re looking to make good of the opportunity and have fun, go into the networking event to build meaningful relationships – rather than just attracting leads!

As the renowned American author and salesperson Zig Ziglar once said, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

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