Events are necessities in networking for your blog and personal brand. They're definitely fun and prime opportunities to make new connections, but they can also be terrifyingly nerve-wracking! We all get a little uncomfortable – some of us dread – at the thought of being in a room full of people you don't know and trying to make a lasting (non-embarrassing) impression on them. A lot of us will bring someone along to help ease the tension – a fellow blogger, friend, family or significant other with whom to chat with and save you from standing alone by the food. All too often, however, we spend our time talking to our friend instead of ‘working the room.' Isn't that why you're there in the first place? Bringing a friend to a networking event is great, but don't let it become a crutch, stopping you from meeting new people! Here's how your networking buddy can help – not hurt – you:
Know your role
If your buddy isn't a fellow blogger friend (i.e. might not have received an invite to the event), ask them for help in making sure you meet new people there. Set a goal of meeting a specific number of people, then have them hold you to it. Practice your ‘elevator speech,' or your 30-second pitch introducing yourself and what you do. Work together to brainstorm 3-5 questions you can ask of the people you meet. The true key to networking is in listening, not talking after all! If you've asked your friend to attend the event with you and they know their role, they won't feel like ‘just a +1′ and a lot more invested in helping you meet new people. Make sure to thank your friend accordingly afterwards too!
Divide & conquer
Attending blogger events with a fellow blogger is awesome – until you realize you've spent the whole event catching up and not on meeting new people! Challenge each other to work the room instead, and reach a certain goal at the end of the night. Sticking together can be helpful for part of the event too. Introduce each other to people you might know or have just met. If one of you is too nervous or shy to approach someone you'd like to talk to, your blogger friend can have that courage and start the conversation for you. Be a wingman (or woman) for each other, and you'll both head home with a ton of fantastic new connections.
Post-event follow-ups are ever crucial and often the first to slip out of your mind or off your to-do list in the rush to get home and relax, get back to work or off to another event. When you go to events with a buddy, you always have someone to chat with after the event. You can use that time to share who you met and would like to follow up with, and hold each other (or have them hold you) accountable. I’ve attended many events with fellow bloggers or friends who’ve not only reminded me to follow up, but who’ve helped me brainstorm new ideas or talk through things that inspired me during the event.
As someone who used to work in events, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped or seen networking buddies break the ice for people. The right networking buddy should add to – not take away or dominate – your time and value at events!