How to Network With Confidence Before, During and After the Event

Do you want to become a more effective networker?

Here is the good news: Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, networking is a learned skill that anyone can do authentically. In this session from 2022 Believe in Music, global pro audio and consumer electronics professional Mike Dias reveals concrete steps for networking at The NAMM Show and other events.

Pre-Show Prep

  • At least a month prior, think about why you are attending and what want to get and give at the event. Examine your goals. This can be lots of work, but it sets you up for success.
  • Review the schedule of events, exhibitors and speakers. Scan them all, including exhibitors and people that you know and want to know. Create a spreadsheet listing them all.
  • Think about all the people you know unrelated to but in the region of the show, including friends, family and past contacts. Call, tell them you will be there and that you want to meet up — a chance to blend networking worlds together, emphasizing fun and friendship.
  • Determine who on your team will also be attending the event. It’s your obligation to help provide introductions to those with fewer connections. Add this to your spreadsheet.
  • Call or email all on your list expressing your desire to meet them. This will likely seem awkward, but they’ll also want this opportunity to network!
  • You will encounter internal resistance to this. Power through the stories you are telling yourself — they are not real.
  • For those you don’t know, list on your spreadsheet why you want to meet them, and use this as a talking point when contacting them.
  • Follow up with people when they inevitably don’t respond.
  • Don’t let yourself be limited by one coffee, lunch or dinner meeting each day. Plan multiple events as needed — but don’t tell them you are on your third dinner, for example.
  • Ensure your calendar, schedule and what’s expected from your employer are all accounted for on your spreadsheet.

Actual

  • Show up with a smile — it will reflect back at you.
  • It’s your job to say hello to people. Everyone at the event showed up to meet new people! (“Hello. How are you doing? How is the show treating you?”)
  • Talk about things you care about. Your sincerity will be evident, and it will help you discover topics of mutual interest. We know networking is a team sport, and it will function more effectively if you take the lead.
  • To avoid feeling awkward, treat everyone as if you know them well. It makes conversations much simpler. Some people may even wonder if they’ve met you before.
  • Don’t take too many liberties, don’t make inappropriate jokes, and dress appropriately.
  • When you listen, be attentive.
  • Be grateful to be there.
  • Don’t ask people what they do. Don’t immediately tell them what you do. It is not who you are.
  • Keep a notebook in your pocket. Write down what you spoke about, any commitments you made, similarities and where you met them.
  • At the end of a meeting, offer a card and request one. You can even staple it to the corresponding notes in your notebook.

Follow Up

  • Very few ever do this, but your efforts are wasted if you don’t follow up.
  • File the contacts and add notes about people and how they’re connected. It’s like building a puzzle.
  • Review commitments in your spreadsheet, and act on them. Follow up.