Many who attended our patient advocacy summit last year reported that they placed significant value on the networking opportunity. So whether you came to this year’s summit in April, or are looking for general guidance, here are some tips to help you build great contacts.
- Decide what your goals are. When going to an event, look at the list of attendees and speakers in advance and decide who you’d most like to meet.
- Arrange meetings in advance. If you have contact details for the people you want to meet (contact information for many attending this year’s summit will be shared with other attendees prior to the event), or they are active on social media, introduce yourself and suggest getting together after the event.
- Ask the organizer. Make yourself known to the organizer, who will have good knowledge and connections and may be able to introduce you to relevant people.
- Listen and make yourself useful. Networking today is all about listening to the people you meet and considering how you can be of use to them. Understand their challenges and think of ways you could help. Treat new acquaintances as you would your friends.
- Be brief. People are busy, so be brief and arrange to follow up in more depth later.
- Be open to new ideas. You may have the opportunity to meet people from different fields at the event. They may have valuable ideas on an unrelated topic that will spur a valuable train of thought that you had not considered before.
- Make notes to follow up. Hand out business cards and make notes so that you can follow up after an event and leverage the connection. Networking all depends on what you do later with the information you have gathered.
- Build a large network. A strong network will help position you as a thought leader and innovator. The more people you know in your sector, the more information you have from those contacts that could be of value.
- Make use of digital channels. Digital technology is a great leveller. Tools like Twitter are a great starting point, providing an efficient way to get reach and scale that you couldn’t do with physical networking. Look online at the key influencers. Follow their Twitter feed or connect with them on LinkedIn. Reply, comment and share useful knowledge with them.
- Combine online and offline networking. Relationship building should be woven into your daily activities, with online connections leading to more in-depth meetings in person, on the telephone, or via video channels like Skype, and, similarly, connections begun at events progressed via online channels. Technology means distance is no longer an obstacle.
Participants often report feeling energized by the spirit of collaboration and encouragement generated by sharing ideas at an event. If you nurture the relationships you build through networking, they will pay dividends later.