My tips on how to pick the best of the bunch.
- Like minded individuals
The best event in the world is worthless if the people you’re mixing with don’t share your interests. Obviously publishing-related events are top of my hit list, but don’t just confine yourself to your own industry – look for skills-based events (marketing) or interest based (education). That way you can widen your network and gain some left-field inspiration at the same time.
A good venue blends into the background. A great venue enhances the event and attracts people in. A poor venue detracts and can even ruin the whole thing. Obviously opinions will vary (personally I dislike The Club at the Ivy, not least of all for the eye-wateringly expensive drinks, but I might be in the minority on this one) but a poor layout, background noise and overcrowding can spoil even the best event.
- Wi-Fi / phone reception
If you can’t attend an event, the next best thing is to follow the conversation on Twitter. This is rendered useless without decent Wi-Fi or phone reception at the venue. Be wary of meetings in pub basements.
- A compelling reason to attend
A great speaker line-up can be the difference between turning up or going home to catch up on Coronation Street. Topical or exclusive subject matter will attract people with similar interests and make the networking itself easier and more enjoyable. Even if you get an attack of nerves and fail to meet a single new person, chances are you will have learned something new.
- Time and space to move and chat
Don’t forget the real reason you are there – to make new contacts. Choice of venue plays a part here – the ideal combination is a bar (Dutch courage), good lighting (you can’t mingle if you can’t see anyone) and space to move around. Check the schedule of the event – some include time for mingling before the speakers, some afterwards.
New to networking? Here are three events to try: