TOP 5 Must Haves When Attending Networking Events
Attending events may seem pretty straight forward...you get ready, you get there, you network for a bit, then bounce, but truth is, going to a business or networking event without some essentials can actually make a simple day or night, more complicated than it needs to be. I can't tell you how many times I found myself rolling my eyes in frustration because I forgot the most basic necessity.
So with that in mind, I wanted to share my top 5 must have items that you'll find yourself looking for the next time you have a business night out.
#5 You Can Never Have Too Many Chargers
If there is one of these I forget the most when I'm out its my cell charger, which is why I own like 5 at this point. You can never have too many chargers...keeping one in your car, and your bag will be a huge life saver when you're rushing from event to event with no trips back to the office to charge up.
Think about all the moments you'll miss capturing and uploading for social media, or the email invite you won't be able to pull up on your phone, or the directions you won't be able to GPS, all because of our dependency on phones.
So remember to charge up and keep a charger nearby to avoid technological first world problems that could leave you without access to the event and the internet.
If you do end up forgetting your charger, and don't have a spare anywhere, I would take a quick stop at a local drug store and pick one up for like $10, rather than asking others to borrow theirs.
#4 Business Cards are Your Stamp
When I was a teenager, I started a small business creating promotional ad spaces for local businesses using their business cards and flyers, and I noticed how important businesses cards were when connect people and companies together.
Every meeting or event I go to people have business cards, and by having one, others can tell a lot about your company (i.e. your logo, slogan, location). They can also help you connect with others in the event you don't have your cellphone. With a business card you'll be able to exchange information with people at the event, create new contacts, and potential clients.
And getting them made can be simple and affordable too. I had mine made at PrintFirm in Canoga Park, CA, but for anyone just starting out, at VistaPrint you get 500 free business cards for for $9.99 with certain generic templates, that will help until you can upgrade.
At an event getting the business card is the easy part, its the follow through thats the most important, so remember to bring plenty, and exchange with contacts that could help you and your business.
If you want to keep your business cards in order I recommend a business card holder and organizer. It might seem bulky to have business cards, so you can always carry a digital version on your phone as well, but make sure your phone is charged if you're going to go that route.
#3 Feel Comfortable in Your Shoes
Having worked dozens of red carpets for awards shows, movie premieres, and other events, I've learned that dressing up, though I rather be in a T-shirt and jeans, is needed to make strong connections with other entrepreneurs at a networking event. According to studies and research done by the Wall Street Journal, dressing up gives signals “about you being successful and real confident in whatever you’re doing” so it would be very beneficial to do so at these events...
But dressing up doesn't necessarily mean wearing something uncomfortable, in my case high heels. When I go out for business I opt for flats, small heel boots, or nice sandals. Though they are beautiful, once I put them on, high heels just make me want to wither in a corner in pain, so that is why having spare shoes is # 3.
Having a pair of spare shoes in the car will be a huge benefit when you can't make it home between meetings and still have a long night of standing ahead. This goes for guys as well. Being on your feet for long hours in unbearable shoes won't just feel uncomfortable, but it will definitely cut your night short when you start to blister. You want to be focused in conversation not in your head about pain, I mean, I've had too many people complain about their feet when out at events...it just had to be on this list.
#2 Have Cash on You at All Times
Los Angeles is known for its traffic, but on top of that, parking can be a real pain as well. When you're heading to an event always have cash on you to avoid spending too much time looking for parking that takes your credit card. Whether you valet or park on the street, having change and cash will be essential at many locations that take cash only.
Networking and business events no matter what scale always carry an element that requires cash whether you need to tip the bartender and servers (I like to do this especially when everything is comp at the event), or donate to a cause the event is fundraising for, or like most concert venues I would go to for events, have cash for some much needed water.
Cash isn't always the easiest to keep track of when it comes to expenses, so to avoid ATM trips or overspending, keep a $20 bill in your wallet for those much needed Cash Only moments.
#1 Be Handsfree with the Right Bag or Clip
Bulky wallets, oversized tots, and heavy shoulder bags will never do when trying to network and go to business events. Not only will all the receipts continue to fly out of the purse, but looking for your business card could become a treasure hunt if you decide to take everything with you.
When at an event, carry an over the shoulder bag or wallet clip to stay as hands free and comfortable as possible. At these events you want to be able to find your business cards, chargers, make up, or whatever quickly...only take what you need.
When you're hand is digging through the bags and you have to find a quiet corner to dump out or sift through your stuff just to find the piece of gum you need, you have too much in your bag.
Being hand free will make it easier to grab the much needed business cards, give a hand shake, and hold a drink all at the same time. When you have your hands full and too much crap in your bag, you'll look and feel unorganized, and knowing me, more likely to drop something.
These meetings and events are in all sorts of venues and locations, so having less to walk around with or something like an over the shoulder bag will even make finding a place to sit simple, instead of asking, does all my stuff fit?
These might not always be on your mind when heading to a business event, but I hope these 5 Must Have Tips will help you remember some essentials the next time you're out networking.