7 tips to embrace networking and achieve your event goals
The Isentia team loves being a part of industry events. Meeting clients current and new is a major highlight, another is sharing insights and updates on our industry with yours.
We introduced our sister company Pulsar into APAC at Mumbrella’s CommsCon event in Sydney, where public relations professionals discovered how audience intelligence helps shape brand narratives and expands audience opportunities. Co-founder and CEO of Pulsar, Fran D’Orazio explained to public relations professionals why sentiment analysis and brand mentions no longer cut it when it comes to understanding your audience – “We [Pulsar] help organisations create messages that are relevant to the audiences they are trying to reach.” Watch Fran’s full presentation on reputation analysis here.
At the LGx 2022 our Chief Commercial Officer, Russ Horell, emphasised the importance of supporting communicators within governments of all levels to achieve their objectives. “We were delighted to be involved with the LGx conference, as Isentia’s sees it as our duty to help bring together and elevate the profession through this type of learning experience,” – Russel Horell, Isentia Chief Commercial Officer
At PRINZ awards night, we celebrated the work of innovative communicators. Our insights Director Ngaire Crawford and Raquel Climent (Country Manager New Zealand) presented and judged on awards for Excellence in Research and Measurement “it’s a celebration of the amazing work from communications professionals in New Zealand – it’s always a thrill to support work that helps drive change. As advocates for authentic and evidence driven communication, the PRINZ community constantly impresses us with their approach and dedication to effective campaigns,” – Ngaire Crawford, Insights Director.
But industry events are more than a social opportunity. They’re a networking opportunity, and though the word networking isn’t always one that sparks joy for communications professionals, it is a key part of organisational development and brand awareness.
Conferences, summits, events, networking lunches and a like, might trigger flashbacks of awkward banter and the feelings of pressure to connect with your peers, but never fear, you’re not alone. Always keen to help where we can, we’ve pulled together some points with the aim to provide extra support when preparing for industry events and reduce that “deer in the headlights” feeling.
1. Why are you going?
Whether attending solo or with your team it’s important that everyone involved is aligned on goals and your key objectives. There’s a reason you’re attending the event but it may not be clear until you get it down on “paper”. Once you see it written in front of you it will be clearer how you can work towards and achieve that purpose.
The plan is not meant to corner colleagues into reaching any KPI’s but give clear direction.
2. Plan, plan and plan some more
Identify what is needed to achieve your goals and objectives then breakdown what resources will be allocated to their completion. If you sponsoring or exhibiting at an event, there may be some resources you don’t have and will need to outsource to acquire, or you may need to rethink that particular output.
By laying it out in a spreadsheet or living doc, and by having the capability to tag your team, you’ll not only feel prepared for the day but feel less pressure and increase the understanding of your team’s capacity.
3. Get ready to learn
Events bring together industry professionals from all walks of life with unique knowledge sets. This is an opportunity to exchange ideas and to gain perspective on how your organisation can operate and communicate.
Bring your notebook and/or laptop and take notes during presentations. Collect your thoughts on talking points and write questions you may want to ask at the end of speaker sessions. Networking may not be your cup of tea, but note taking can make it easier on you when trying to remember key talking points for the rest of the event.
4. Everyone is in the same boat as you!
Once you understand and acknowledge this, then approaching and talking to people will feel less like you’re trying to make new friends on the first day of school and more like genuinely learning and connecting with others.
To take the guesswork out of networking, try and have an idea of what you want to talk about, for example, a key topic from a presentation or something interesting you have noticed about the potential connection’s industry. Ensure you can make a lasting impression with a prospective connection, with something to follow-up on after the event.
5. Have fun!
Research shows that if you go into a situation that takes you out of your comfort zone one of the best ways to ease any apprehension is to go into it affirming that you’re excited. This puts you in a positive state of mind and ready to reap all the rewards while attending.
The whole point of events is to meet, network, engage and learn from each other.
6. Get the measure of it
It’s all well and good to see and be seen at events, but is it worth your time in the long run? Events can be costly, not just financially but also costly to your team’s capacity, so you need to assess whether the benefits justify the costs. Point 1 is an important step for measuring your objectives.
Set your objectives and how you will gather the data then apply your success criteria post-event. Another way to prepare for future success is documenting key learnings and planning for solutions ahead of time.
7. Share your assessment
Have a meeting with your team post-event to discuss your key learnings and insights of the event day. Talk about and document what went well and what could be improved or what you would like to have done differently.
Have an event planning template on hand and update it as your learnings change and knowledge grows. Another key doc is a suppliers directory: a quick go-to for when you need to outsource printed materials, merchandise or other items.