By Jade McKenzie
The best part of events is the face to face time you have with like-minded peeps who are all there for a common purpose. You are all in the same room, at the same time, with the same opportunities but when there is awesome content on offer, it can be easy to forget that one of the most brilliant things you can do for yourself is to connect with the people who are there.
Whether you are the organiser of the event, the helper, the guest speaker or the attendee, here are some ways that you can get the most out of events and build relationships with the people who are there.
Don't rush off!
If there is the chance to stay and mingle, take it. Seek out opportunities to talk to the organisers or speakers and let them know you really enjoyed yourself or appreciated their words. A genuine thank you can lead to brilliant discussions around their business and lead to them being interested in what you do. Or if you are the one running the event, take the opportunity to talk to those who are keen to meet you and help build rapport with your community.
Whether you are alone or with others, it's always great to speak to other attendees about their thoughts on the event and their reasons for being there. Ironically, I am not the best networker when I am by myself (I'm really shy!!!) but I've found over the years that just one friendly smile can help determine whether or not you will have a conversation with the person you are smiling at. Seriously, smile at someone who is by themselves too and take your cues from their response. You'll know within 3 seconds.
In the same vein, when you are having these conversations then make sure you are really listening to the other person. It's easy to keep looking around, think of your own answers in your head or talk over them, but active listening is one of the greatest ways you can engage with someone in a real and authentic way. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing, be present with the person in front of you.
Know who you are
Sounds ridiculous right? But when a complete stranger or someone you really admire asks you what you do, what are you going to say? Does it clearly depict what you do, who you work with and why it's of value? Sometimes it really pays to rehearse your intro a few times before heading into an event.
Keep the connections going
If you really feel like you got along well with someone or that there is potential to collaborate or work together in the future, then make an effort to keep in touch post event. You can do this with a short and friendly email, a connection over social media or a sweet comment on their blog.
Offer to lend a hand
If the event really lights a spark in you and you want to get more involved, ask the organiser if there is a way you can contribute to a future one, either through volunteering your own assistance on the day or even being a speaker. I have invited people to speak at my events just through a simple conversation where they let me know they loved it so much they wanted to be a part of it and I have definitely had people work on the volunteer team because they expressed interest.
Events don't have to just be about showing up, listening to a presentation and then leaving. They can be a truly fulfilling experience that leads to amazing connections and opportunities if you are open to it!