The licensing industry’s marquee events--including Licensing Expo, New York Toy Fair, and Brand Licensing Europe--offer unique opportunities to network and build connections. Regardless of your role or the size of your company, the ability to have a knowledgeable, engaging conversation with other members of the licensing community can help you build lasting relationships that ultimately support your bottom line.
In addition to new connections, industry events allow you to reconnect with professionals you already know, including those you’ve met at past events and partners who you may only communicate with through calls and emails.
But networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The idea of approaching and successfully communicating with a potential business partner can strike fear in the heart of the most senior executive.
Never fear. Below, find 12 full-proof tips to make sure your next networking event is a success.
1. Presentation is key
A networking event can be a lot like a first date, meaning that you’ll want to present yourself as well on the outside as you do on the inside. Turn heads and show that you are catch by putting on a great outfit that suits the event. Meeting a potential partner on the expo floor? Try a clean button down and dress pants. Attending a party during Licensing Expo? Slip into a going-out frock that shows a bit of your personality.
2. Find your inner superhero
Networking isn’t just for the loudest voice in the room. Don’t be a wallflower or only chat with people you know. Tap into your inner superhero and amplify your best qualities to strike up a quality conversation with potential business partners. Like any good superhero, you’ll want to use the power of observation to spot unoccupied on interesting people to talk to.
3. Do your research
Interested in making a cold introduction at a booth? Make sure you research the company first. Consult the company’s website to get a better understanding of the corporation’s goals, accolades and recent news. Knowing a company’s vision and its recent successes will help you craft an introduction that enhances your value as a potential partner.
4. Have your “elevator pitch” down packed
Remember the time-tested “elevator pitch.” A quick, concise, accurate statement about your business and your goals will engage your listener and make you memorable.
5. Be humble
While a healthy dose of self-promotion will help you make valuable connections, too much boasting will turn off your audience. Learn how to advance your cause while actively engaging with those around you.
6. Hand out business cards
It may seem like everything has gone digital, but business cards are still a great way to exchange contact information. Grabbing a business card from someone you talked to will also help you to reconnect the following day. Be sure to snap a photo of each card you receive and to jot down important notes in your phone on or the card itself before saving.
7. Follow up
Send a follow-up email to everyone you exchange contact information with. Even if you don’t see a direct connection between your business and your contact’s, you leave the door open for future opportunities by sending a friendly message within 24 hours.
8. Listen and learn
Listen carefully during each of your interactions. In addition to gathering valuable business information, you’ll learn more about your fellow business professionals as people. You may even walk away with new friends.
9. Know your limit
Networking events and informal meetings can be pretty generous where alcohol is involved. While a drink may help ease your anxiety, remember that you want to leave a lasting impression, not flashback to your college days.
10. Understand that things take time
Networking is a slow burn, meaning that the most powerful bonds require time, energy and multiple meetings. Don’t expect to strike a deal on your first meeting. Use your personality and knowledge to schedule a formal business meeting for another time.
11. Don’t be afraid to offer perks
Don’t think that the people you are approaching are the only ones with something to offer. Remember that your company is valuable as well, and be open to the idea of offering coupons, discounts, favors or advice to the people you’re looking to impress.
12. Ask questions
Most seasoned professionals will jump at the opportunity to share their experiences with others. Develop the confidence to ask smart, targeted questions that will help you grow your business.
Networking is an effective business tactic that has withstood the test of time. How? Networking allows you to refine your skill set, get a leg up on industry trends, meet potential partners and connect with new and interesting personalities. At a time when almost everything has gone digital, connecting face-to-face gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for your business and to establish deep connections with others.
By following the twelves steps listed above, you’re guaranteed to expand your network and find future success.