Networking can be a full-time job -- especially in Portland. Strategize before you go so you get the most out of your networking events!

Here are some ways you can prepare for successful connections next time you go to a business mixer, professional lecture, or industry conference:

1. Choose the right event

Have you ever walked into a room full of people who do basically the same thing you do? That’s great if you’re looking for advice, mentoring, or industry connections, but it’s terrible if you’re looking for clients or referral partners.

Ask the organizer what industries are represented at the event you’re considering, or tap into social media for group feedback.

2. Have a clear goal

What do you want to achieve by attending this event? Sure, we’re all looking for clients, but give yourself a more interesting and achievable focus and see how powerfully it shifts your mindset and your interactions. 

For example, consider using the event to try out variations of your 5-second pitch, to find someone whose work you’re excited to promote, or to gather some tips about a service you’re considering trying.

 3. Be intentionally interesting

Nobody wants to have the same conversation 20 times in a row, but somehow that’s what happens anyway. Take 10 minutes to write down some conversation openers that are outside the what-do-you-do norm. For instance:

  • Share a productivity strategy you’re trying out and ask others if they have any they’ve found useful.
  • Mention someone whose work or business model really inspires you and ask others who they’re feeling inspired by right now.
  • Briefly outline a project you’re working on within your business and ask others what they’re working on.

Most of us aren't natural networkers -- but practice helps a lot.

Plus ... just be a real, human person who cares about the humans in front of you. If it's hard to be interested in said humans, maybe it's time to dig deeper into point #1 above. Stay tuned -- we'll do just that in the coming weeks.

Do you have a favorite networking conversation starter? Let us know via  email ! We’ll share some of our favorites (and link to you) in our newsletter and on social media.