For a company with a global reach, or a successful CEO who travels for business on a regular basis, networking events abroad are a great way to build new relationships and drive forward new connections to grow your business at a global level.
While overseas networking opportunities might be more challenging to plan, however, they can be an appealing proposition for delegates keen to visit a certain destination in the interests of their business or staff. A networking event provides a professional platform to bring staff together, unite global experts or invite business people regardless of where their offices or homes are in the world.
Hosting or attending a networking event in a new country will help you develop personal business contacts in a country’s particular field of expertise or enable you to present a product on the worldwide stage. Business events, wherever they are held in the world, help you to forge connections and could lead to the next stepping stone on your job search. Either way, networking abroad can be an inviting platform to attract prospective clients as well as nurture existing partnerships in a mutual but enjoyable setting.
However, choosing the right networking venue is important if your business premises are positioned in different global locations. Networking is a two-way process, though, and it’s ongoing. You need to be persistent, organized and have a sincere interest in making connections with new people in different cultures and places.
Here are 12 ways you can network effectively and build lasting connections with those in your industry both at home and abroad.
1. Accept invites to attend
The key to successful networking is to turn up! Make sure you accept the invitation to an event whether you have to travel there or not. If you want your business to grow or your career to thrive, there are numerous benefits to attending networking events, so try and accept as many invites as possible.
However, be prepared so you can build an authentic reputation and go into conversations without worry. You don’t want to be heading into an event overly keen and only out to help yourself. It sends the wrong message to those around you and gives the impression that you have an ulterior motive, which isn’t conducive to building lasting relationships with people.
2. Listen more than you talk
Striking the right balance between jumping into a conversation and taking over can be hard, so instead of trying to get involved in the middle of the action, sit back and get a handle on what people are talking about. Smile and nod while you understand everyone’s perspectives, so you can start participating and contributing something valuable to the conversation. A great way to contribute is to ask a question that shows you’re interested and want to take part in the conversation, rather than just taking over.
3. Repeat the names of people you meet
At a networking event, you’re likely to meet multiple people and keeping track of everyone can be hard. One of the best ways to remember names is by repeating them in the conversion or at the end of a question directed at them. It will help you remember and serves as an effective recall strategy, while also making people feel more comfortable towards you. It shows others that you’re paying attention and that is important in building connections.
4. Bring business cards and digital devices
Business cards may seem like an old-school tactic, but they’re still a great way to stay in peoples’ minds after the event is over. In addition to packing your laptop and digital devices for a working trip, why not print off some business cards that are easy to carry on your person and pass around. Don’t wait for your new contacts to ask for a card. Take a proactive approach and offer yours, asking for theirs in return so you can keep in touch. Business cards should be part of your personal branding, so make sure you take plenty with you to any event.
5. Use social media to your advantage
Social media is one of the most effective tools for modern networking, but you need to know how to use it to your advantage. Consistency is important so that when someone searches for you, they can be sure they’ve found the right person. “If someone who follows you on Twitter searches for your Instagram account, they’re likely looking for the same username and profile picture”, explains the team at MPB, “Maintaining a similar (if not identical) look across your accounts will build brand recognition and make you easier to find”. When you have the chance to meet people in person, they’ll be able to reference their communications with you more easily.
6. Remember that networking is a two-way street
When you meet someone at an event, it’s important to make sure you’re taking in as much information about someone’s business as you are providing them with information about yours. You need to start with the basics about yourself, such as your name, the name of your business and your position there, and what you specialize in. But then you need to turn the conversation on them and ask genuine questions that show you’re interested. Ask them what services or products they provide, who their clients and customers are, and what sets them apart from the competition.
7. Never pass up an opportunity to talk
Any opportunity can be used to make a new acquaintance, whether it’s waiting in line for an event or waiting for a virtual coffee event to start. There’s a good chance that you won’t know anyone at the event, especially if you’re new to networking or you’re joining a new field. So grab any opportunity you can to find out more about those working in the sector and don’t let a moment slip by when you could be connecting with someone who could turn out to be instrumental to your career success.
8 . Make the most of mutual connections
Common connections can lead to great business and because it’s a recommendation, there’s already a certain level of trust involved which benefits both parties. If you add an old coworker on Facebook or spot them at an event overseas, you won’t want to lose touch with them. You might discover that they know someone who works in your dream field or could be beneficial to your organization or international freelancer role, so it makes sense to send them a message asking them to connect with you. Your mutual connection adds context to your message and makes it easier for someone to respond positively. LinkedIn is a great platform for finding mutual connections and staying in touch.
9. Develop an opening statement
Craft a 30-second opening speech you can introduce yourself with, whether online or in person, so that you cover the basics of who you are, what you want and how you hope to be able to serve those in your business community. It should be short, snappy and to the point.
10. Get creative with your questions
Small talk is important, but you don’t want to waste your conversations with potentially influential people on meaningless chatter. Getting creative with your questioning will help you stand out from others at the event and could lead you into more valuable conversations, such as tapping into their passions or projects they’ve enjoyed working on recently.
11. Find a reason to follow up with people
You don’t want those connections you’ve worked hard on developing to go to waste, so find a reason to keep the relationship going. Maybe you can send them a resource or an article you think they’ll find interesting based on a conversation you had previously, or you could ask them to join you at a follow-up event in the future that you think may benefit you both. Find opportunities to reconnect with those people in your network to make genuine relationships.
12. Remember to say thank you
A thank you goes a long way in business, so thank the connections you’ve made on the day for their time and the information they’ve provided you with. It can help to keep notes on the people you meet so you have something to build on in future correspondence with them, which adds a more personalized touch to your meetings.
Networking is a skill that’s worth developing for your career and it can result in great opportunities for you personally or for your business on a wider scale.
By Dakota Murphey