In this day of instant media reach and social-media connectivity, networking events have assumed importance of gigantic proportions. A place where groups of like-minded business people gather to develop relationships or identify opportunities of sale or even learn about the market trends, networking events are allocated due budgets in every marketing plan exercise. But while large companies can afford big budgets for such events, what about small and medium businesses? Is it worth an SMB’s money? Let’s evaluate. We live in a social world where one-to-one discussions are most effective in comparison to discussions over e-mails or phone-calls. Networking events allow you to showcase your product or service. Through these events you can get to know what’s going on in the industry, as mostly latest and upcoming trends are discussed. It is the biggest platform for visibility and if you have just started out, your business needs it. Here’s how you can go about networking events and make the most of them: Try to co-relate them with your business goals/objectives: You might have several business objectives such as • Finding a right vendor • Finding the right manpower • To be updated with the industry trends • Finding out strategic business partners • To identify prospects and business referrals • Increasing your brand awareness If you find any of your goals can be matched with the particular networking event, then it can be in your To-Do list. Devise a strategy to get ‘what you want’ out of the event: If you attend a networking event without a strategy, then it’s clearly a waste of time. Define your strategies • How should I get in touch with top decision makers in our industry? • How do I meet a minimum of 20 prospective clients? • What are the Key Take-aways that I can bring back to the business? If you are not able to figure out a strategy that meets your objectives, the networking events aren’t for you. Allot your time and budget accordingly: Asking these types of questions can also help in determining whether you should attend the networking event or not. • Is the event really important to give it the time vis-a-vis other ‘productive’ business purposes? • Can the business afford it? If so, what is the ROI? Get to know the attendees and sponsors well in advance: Above all, it’s very important to figure out the attendees of the event so that you can figure out your strategy to approach them. After all, it’s all about the people who offer business opportunities to you. If you think that the attendees/sponsors of the event are of no help to your business objectives, it’s better not to attend the networking event. How do we find such events? • There are several event related groups in LinkedIn to find out the upcoming events in your space. LinkedIn also suggest events based upon your profile. Checkout ‘Events’ Column in LinkedIn often to stay updated. • You can also check out websites like www.meraevents.com/Home, www.indobase.com/events/index.php to keep yourself updated with upcoming events in India.
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