In today’s highly digital world, face-to-face networking has fallen to the wayside. Instead, architecture, engineering and construction professionals often rely on social media and other online platforms to remain connected. While social media can be a suitable approach for nurturing professional relationships, it does not create the same level of connection as a face-to-face meeting.
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The Lost Art of Face-to-Face Networking
Younger generations are digital natives. As a result, they rely heavily on social media and online platforms for networking. Over time, more seasoned professionals followed suit, partially because these options are easier to squeeze into a busy schedule and have increasingly become a standard.
However, online interactions typically do not create the same level of connection as when time is spent face-to-face. It is difficult to convey emotions in writing, something that can lead to misunderstandings and hindered relationships. Networking events create the opportunity to
interact with people directly – by making eye contact, sharing a smile, or participating in a handshake – ensuring that connections feel more personal.
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Three Tips to Make the Most of Your Next Networking Event
There are numerous reasons why you should attend professional networking events. However, simply showing up is not always enough. Use the following three tips to ensure you put your best foot forward and make the most of your time at an event.
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1. Identify Core Goals
Before you head into the event, identify your core goals and desired outcomes. This can include how many new people you want to meet, the kind of information you want to gather and anything else that provides value. By having a purpose aligned with your efforts, you can make smart choices about how to spend your time.
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2. Meet New Professionals
Avoid exclusively spending time with people you already know. While touching base with existing contact is certainly wise, you also want to branch out. Have an elevator-style speech ready as an icebreaker, create a list of questions you can ask other attendees, and get in a mingling mindset. Also, make sure to be authentic in every encounter and have fun during the conversations. An overly aggressive approach may be off-putting when you are requesting contact details, so only ask for them when it feels natural and appropriate.
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3. Collect Contacts
Make sure that collecting new contacts is your goal. Instead of forcing your card on someone else, find opportunities to ask other professionals for their contact information. This allows you to take control of the follow-up experience, which can be valuable.
Finally, have a plan in place for follow-up contact. This can include reaching out on social media, emailing to schedule a lunch, adding their information to a potential customer database, or anything else that may be appropriate. By thinking ahead, you can act quickly after the networking event, ensuring you reconnect during a window where the person will remember speaking with you.
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