ChannelCon 2017 is coming up, and you know what this means. It’s time to step out of that introverted shell you call home and get to networking.

While there is no right way to network, there are a few things that every professional should keep in mind.  

Totes awk … but all attendees are not created equal.

It’s true. You don’t ever want to show up to an event blindly. You should always head into an event with a pre-built list of people you’d like to meet. Whether it’s a vendor, speaker, or MSP, these lists don’t have to be long. In fact, it’s completely fine if you realize you only really want to talk to one person.

However, if you do find there are less than three people on your list, throw a few others onto it just for the heck of it. Take a look at the agenda, research the sponsors and vendors, and have something up your sleeve just in case you find yourself meandering the event halls with nothing to do.

Business cards are where it’s at.

You know all those business cards you have? Yup. That’s right. All 600 of those little guys you have stuffed in some box, in some drawer, in some closet somewhere. Welp, their time has come to shine.

When it comes to events, business cards are probably one of the most important items to have. You should keep a small stack of at least 10 on you at all times of the day – whether you’re eating breakfast in the morning or taking shots at the afterparty. You never know who you’re going to run into, and plus, if you’re left without a way to “professionally” share your contact information, you’ll regret it.

Trust me on this. You don’t want to be stuck writing a number onto someone’s arm or bumping phones with another person at an industry event. That’s weird, man.

Hey bruh, you got a pen?

When you leave an event with 50-plus business cards, things can quickly get confusing. Ever seen that part of American Psycho where the men are comparing quite literally the same business card with different textures? That’s what it’ll be like for you, except they’ll all be teal and use the word IT in some fashion. Which might be worse.

This is why you need a pen.

With this beautiful pen of yours, you should try your best to write relevant notes on every card you receive. You should also consider a ranking system of some sort. For example, the cards that require immediate attention when you get back to the office (like a vendor, partner, or client that’s ready to sign on the dotted line) should be marked with a yellow highlighter.      

via GIPHY

One helluva party.

The after-parties are typically where you’ll have the most opportunity to network with people. And at this point, people are ready to let loose and talk shop. But real shop. Not that filtered shop that exists between keynotes. That’s basically the industry equivalent of going to a PTA meeting.

In other words, don’t skip the after-parties. I don’t care how tired you are, or how many angry texts your wife will send you.

Go.   

Be real.

You aren’t going to accomplish much in the way of networking if you aren’t honest with people. In other words, don’t resort to PTA talk. Tell it like it is. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a handful of 10-minute, surface-level conversations that will do neither party any good.

Think about your end goal and what you’d like to accomplish with each conversation. Keep your conversations targeted and genuine, and you’ll be better off for it.

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