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Build Networking Success by Marketing Yourself Beforehand

By Janet Falk

You know the networking drill. You register for an event and then dread going to meet a roomful of industry insiders who know each other, and where you know hardly a soul. If walking into a networking event gives you pause, follow this campaign to connect with the movers and shakers of the organization and maximize your networking success.
1. After you register for an event sponsored by an industry or professional organization, visit the group’s website. Prepare a list of the officers, board members and committee chairs, including their email addresses. If the email is not provided, look up their LinkedIn profile; check the Contact Info tab under the photograph for an email address.

Write an introductory email to each person with the subject line: “Will you attend the NETWORKING COCKTAIL on SEPTEMBER 3?” Briefly describe yourself and your work with a related business, along these lines:

Your name came to my attention as an officer/committee chair of the Organization.

I am a ____ professional who specializes in helping ____.

Having worked with Relevant Nonprofit on various projects in Specific Mutual Area of Interest, I wish to learn more about the Organization and how, if I become a member, I might get involved in your activities.

Perhaps we can chat at the Event, where I’m excited to meet you and your colleagues.

Your Name
Company website

When you reach out to the leaders of the organization, they will be delighted to hear from you as a potential member. At least half of them will email you back with a big welcome. Why? Every organization needs to bring in new members, especially people who offer specialized expertise their current members may require. Your note inspires confidence that you are a professional worth welcoming into the fold. It establishes common ground on which to build a relationship.

2. Reply warmly to their responses. In your note, indicate that you will wear a distinctive article of clothing to make it easy for you both to spot each other in a crowded room. Perhaps a woman wears a red jacket and a man has a green tie. This email exchange informally places the contact on your Welcoming Committee and they are prepared to seek you out at the event.

3. On the day of the event, review the names and LinkedIn profiles of the people you contacted. Make note of your areas of mutual interest, to ensure a more meaningful conversation. This list of names is your game plan.

4. Ask the person at the registration desk for two of the people on your list, and to be directed towards them. Alternatively, be on the look-out for these contacts. When speaking with them, ask about the industry or professional organization itself. Learn why they became a member, what they most enjoy about the group and what was their most recent success. Let them promote the organization and recruit you. Only discuss yourself and your expertise in passing. As the conversation flows freely, and you collect their business cards, take out your list and ask to meet some of the others you contacted.

Keep track of the names on your list and endeavor to meet as many of the officers and committee chairs as possible.

5. After the event, send a follow-up email and invite each person to connect with you on LinkedIn. Note what a pleasure it was to meet in person and learn about the organization. Mention that you look forward to seeing them at future events. If you have become a member, tell them they played a significant role in that decision. What’s more, you can even send an email to re-connect with anyone on the list whom you did not have a chance to meet. Perhaps they are open to speaking with you at a one-on-one coffee chat.

With this pre-networking event marketing campaign, you become the focus of attention of the organization’s movers and shakers. You demonstrate that your interests align with those of its leaders. You share an agenda of the benefits of membership and its future activities. Thanks to that common ground, you enhance your networking success.

May 12, 2016

Janet Falk is a Communications professional with more than 15 years experience in-house and at public relations agencies. She manages pro-active media outreach and has secured placement of executives and events in local, national and international print and broadcast media; for example, a listing in The New York Times Weekend Calendar generated a 300% increase in attendees. Janet is a versatile writer who can prepare newsletters, speeches, advertisements, presentations and website copy, as well as marketing literature.